Toton, 2032 (Artist's Impression)

Toton, 2032 (Artist’s Impression)

(WordPress is being odd and not letting me title this post. It is meant to be ‘HS2 New Choo-Choo? /Bookish Beeston: Brilliance Brevity/ (Peter) Snow in Beestonia.’ . I think I’ve over-used my alliteration allowance allocation ration)

So it’s official! Beeston’s outskirts are to receive HS2. London now has a fast route to get to our glorious town. Joy has been unabated and unanimous, with Toton dwellers seeing their house prices rise by a staggering 42,499% and rushing off to buy cigars with the dimensions of rhino thighs while ignoring the fact multiple commentators were dissing their conurbation with mispronounciations of Toton.

Yes, a massive station might be built on the outskirts and there is universal happiness. Toton and environs get so rich they BUY Dubai after taking a fancy to it on holiday. Most of them are already decked in ermine and diamond studded cravats and swapping their Ford Focus for Learjets.

Politically, it’s a group hug. The Tories have to like it as they announced it, and our incumbent MP is delighted, not least as it might free her from the deeply entrenched position of opposing housing in the Constituency by blaming it on circumstancial change: latest estimates suggest we’ll be flooded with 70,000 Beefeaters; 20,000 Pearly Kings and 92 Dot Cottons, all desperate for residence.

The Lib Dems are also fans. I asked them their opinion via Twitter, first up, County/Borough Councillor Steve Carr


and David Watts, Borough Councillor:


But would there be future splits in opinion between parties, and some NIMBYism?


…to which I replied:


…not because I was having a breakdown, but forgot to lock my phone when I stuck it in my pocket and popped out for a pint of semi-skimmed.

Labour are, unsurprisingly, jubilant. After all, it was their idea. Rylands councillor Steve Barber is never shy to admit he’s a fan of rail-based transport, and the decision is also a smack round the chops for tram naysayers: it’s all integrated now, innit? They might also be a bit chuffed that it means they have more time to knock out a core strategy for our town centre in light we are to be the new hub of the East Midlands.

I love a bit of cheesy cuddling, I love seeing everyone, regardless of political party, laying down arms and having and having a metaphorical Christmas Day kick-about in No-Man’sLand. Yet i’d be a liar and a fraud if I thought that all was rosy in the garden of HS2. I’m not the former, (and I’m only the latter when it comes to setting out my GCSE maths result on my CV/ telling the fiance exactly how many pints of Bounder I  drank ‘researching’ in The Crown Inn), so I best do what I get unpaid to do and note a few points.

Yesterday, I also asked non-politicos there opinion on the coming of HS2, and got a fairly indifferent response. A few good points were raised, and they set me thinking. I now am doubtful if the we’ll ever actually see the mega-buck choo-choo glide into town. Why?

1)      Enthusiasm. Yes, the keenness on Monday for everyone to bask in the reflected glory of a Grand Project seemed like it would be propelled without objection, but scrape the surface. The Tories are nervous of it: the fact it scythes through several key marginals –and what are we, if not that?- puts them on edge. Cameron has shown his unease at the core, right-wing element of the party with his concession to the 1922/Europhobic elements by promising a referendum should they get re-elected. If they organise and consolidate as a strong anti-HS2 voice, they will be forced into route, if not whole project, rethinking. Locally, Soubry presently stands little chance of election (well, unless she finds a cure for cancer, global warming and Piers Morgan before 2015) so to have a load of people in Toton and Stapleford who feel threatened by the scheme defect to UKIP or a proper political party is terrifying. So why have the Tories bigged it up? Quite simply, they need a big- Plan B in all but name- announcement  to make every week to show that they’re not in a mad spiral of panic about the failure of Plan A. The indifference towards HS2 in the first two years of coalition, where it was assumed to have been all but dropped, is clear evidence of this. Remember the key point: it has yet to clear a Parliamentary vote.

2)      Money. The commitment to pay for the actual project involves the involvement of a  minimum four Parliaments. Every one of them could theoretically pull the plug. The figures as so far quoted have been rather conjured up. There is not a scientist in the world who would give such bizarrely confident predictions of cost and benefit, in terms of the long –term variables . So that’s why such jobs are giving to theoretical economists, who work with the tools of dart boards, blindfolds and keeping a straight face.

3)      London Existing:


Major pessimism here, but it’s not without foundation. Last week, Nicholas Stern, who in 2006 presented the then government with his quite bleak report on climate change, has just gone on record saying that his original –pretty much apocalyptic predictions were far too optimistic. By the time we’re linked speedily to London, it might as well be just as useful as running a line to Atlantis Central.

Anyhow: one hates to be a Cassandra. And maybe I should rejoice: our local economy is booming. We already have seen an incredible amount of local economic benefit as sales of caviar, swan-steaks and massive diamonds rocket at Tesco Toton. All aboard!!


A quick mention to a Beestonian, Nick , who I have never met but follow on Twitter, where he’s known as @plodinnotts . He is presently embarking on a great project to write succinct, thoughtful and occasionally hilarious reviews of his massive book collection. I’m a fan, if not a practitioner, of brevity; and a fellow bibliophile, so find it fascinating. Go and check him out: I’m hoping he’ll stick them all in one place, and create the only ultra-concise bluffer’s guide you’ll ever need. Plus, he has the most distressingly / funny description of himself on his biog….


Grant Shapps, the perma-grinning Tory Chairman and internet imposter was in Bramcote a couple of days ago launching the General Election campaign for their Candidate for Nottingham South. Yep, this spring is when parties start gearing up for the next big vote (despite having the County and Euros before that) so, donning my psephological hat I thought I’d ask you, my lovely Beestonians, who you’d vote for if you had access to a time-machine  and took it to 2015.  And in my best Peter Snow voice, I best advise that this is Just For Fun….

HS2 New Choo-Choo? /Bookish Beeston: Brilliance Brevity/ (Peter) Snow in Beestonia.

Guest Post: Big Bottoms, Big Bottoms, Talk About Ass Cakes, Beeston’s Got ‘Em.*

So it would appear that our hooky-playing, erstwhile low-profile representative in Parliament, Anna Soubry, has revealed to the national Press exactly what it is she does when in sniffing distance of her electorate: judge us. By our appearance.  She can, and indeed does, determine our probable background and class by a mere gander in our general direction, or more accurately, at our silhouette.

Our size, says Soubry, is usually a pretty good indicator of our class. Gone are the days when the “runty” look embodied poverty, says Soubry, as now it’s the fatties wot do it.
She cites anecdotal evidence for this, as is her wont — people she witnessed in Nottingham (not her constituency, as it happens, but she’s probably just projecting) while she walked ‘about’.
I imagine her observances go something along the lines of:
[observes person approaching]
Are they an oblate-spheroid? Yes! ‘probably poor — turn and walk fast. Don’t run; no need — they’re [mouths letters silently to self] F.A.T!
Are they well-rounded and merely lacking definition? Yes! ‘probably struggling to make ends meet, but at least gainfully employed — fake interest!
Are they thin-as-a-rake? Yes! Upper class and well-to–do; probably a merchant banker —  say hello!
Are they just plain runty? ‘probably went to school with me — avoid eye contact at all cost!

Soubry’s ostensible concern in her observations belies her preoccupation with blame. After all, we all know Eric Pickles isn’t short of a bob or two, and he’s as fat as they come; Gideon Osbourne has put on a tidy sum around his chops since coming into power — and he’s always been rolling in it. So how genuinely helpful, or meaningful, is it for her to assert that fat people are probably poor? Or vice versa?
If she spent as much time with her constituents, responding to their actual concerns and questions as she presumably spends walking about speculating on why people around her are the way they are, she would have a better track record as Broxtowe’s MP. She’s famous for praising those who take the time to come to see her in person at her constituency office. No wonder. She’s hardly ever there, and when she is once she’s spoken to you there’s no follow-up action required of her. Write, email or call and it’s often a different matter… maybe it’s because she can’t get a handle on you from your handwriting; fat people write the same way skinny folk do, after all…

Soubry has joined the ranks of Tories pining for the golden age of their youth — the It Was Better In My Day crew. Chaired by Gove, with his Educational policies founded purely in his obsession with his own jolly school days of reciting Beowulf verbatim from memory and Latin before lunch but after a whipping, and Hunt as Deputy, who harks back to a time when there was no NHS and the poor and destitute died of illness and botched backstreet abortions like they bally well should, they bemoan the good ol’ days. For Soubry, this was when the poor were recognisable by their body shape, but not because they were eating bad stuff, but because they were eating not much at all. Apparently, Not Much, But Home Cooked Not Much is better than a MacDonald’s.  As though ‘thin and poor’ were preferable to ‘fat and poor’ because at least then you appear healthy, and are not ugly in her eyes.

If saying the thoughts that were in her head about fatties wasn’t bad enough, she’s also appointed herself taskmaster of telling you what to eat, how to eat it and where to eat it.
I hope you’re not reading this while eating your lunch at your desk, because you may spit it out when I tell you that, according to Soubry, that’s “disgusting”. You weirdo.
I eat at my desk – not every day, but a lot of days. Sometimes it’s because I know an hour isn’t long enough to get into town and find somewhere sheltered and warm (if its cold) or quiet and warm (if its sunny) to eat, and I don’t eat in restaurants alone at lunch, and not with others unless it’s a birthday, leaving do or Christmas – because I’m not a) rich, b) a man c) a fat MP. Besides, it’s my hour – I can spend it how I please. Quite who she thinks will heed her words is beyond me. Who is expected to cook homemade dinners every night of the week? Did she?

Rather than banning the word ‘fat’ in her household so as to not cause her daughters to obsess about weight, I would urge Soubry to think before she speaks — because it strikes me that being preoccupied with your weight is far-and-away less nasty than publicly prejudging others for theirs.



*Big props to Nottingham Post’s Master of Chuckle Erik Peterson for that one.

The Square Meeting: Some Thoughts.

It’s near-impossible to write a conclusive write-up of last week’s meeting: there were so many issues discussed and few absolute conclusions, but if you really want, we have the complete meeting on video here: to peruse if you fancy. Cheers to James from web-wizards HexProductions for filming.

A few points did stand out. The whole concept of Beeston redevelopment is frustrated not by the politicians, not by the developers and not even by NET, but rather the complex nature of who actually owns what. NET have been given a pretty much free license to get the tram in to schedule, hence the wide expanses of land they have temporary permission ownership of which makes a coherent plan impossible. An audience member pointed out that this was hardly democracy, and I can see her point. Deputy Leader of the council, Cllr. Pat Lally, preferred to see the issue with pragmatism rather than despair: all parties were working to the best of their abilities within the constraints applicable to them. Hmmm. I’m not so sure, and I didn’t see a huge amount of concordance with this opinion from the audience.

L-R James Greenway (Henry Boot); John Delaney (Head of Built Environment, Broxtowe Borough Council); Me; Cllr Barber (Chair, Development Control). Copyright Lewis Stainer.

A quick vote at the end of the meeting was taken on the question: Do you feel more confident about the future of Beeston now than you did at the start of the meeting? Very few hands were raised. We have an interesting few weeks / months ahead.

A few minor points. We are losing the clock rather than being treated to a working one. The reason is quite simple: Henry Boot are worried that they’ll get a deluge of calls should it ever prove to be less than reliable. This wasn’t swallowed by many: surely technology could provide a robust model. Apparently not. Stumpy, which my colleague on The Beestonian Tamar researched and wrote about here: remains in it’s present spot, due to it not quite falling into the jurisdiction of Henry Boot. I’ve long been a fan of Stumpy, or, to be give him his correct name, Water Head; while the Beeston Express have long campaigned to have him reduced to rubble. A quick vote suggested that you too value our quirky, if incongruous sculpture. However, eventually it would be good to see Stumpy relocated to a more sympathetic spot: a churchyard, in water, perhaps; I’m sure Sheila at The Beeston Express would find this a suitable compromise.

If you do want to know more about the meeting, feel free to get in touch with myself. If you want to talk to Henry Boot directly, Director James Greenway has asked me to publish his direct email where he’ll be happy to engage with you: . The plans have now been formally submitted to the council. I’ll report more when I get it.


I’d like to thank everyone who attended and those who made it possible: the panel, John Clifford School, James Hall, Lewis Stainer and Tamar Feast for getting some last-minute printing sorted. Cheers. I now fancy running a hustings for the County Council Elections; though I’ll need some training in how to properly run these things. Ah well, time to contact the professionals:


I mentioned just under a year ago how myself and Rex Walker from CP Walker had been given a credit in a short film by a local filmmaker after I ran a piece asking for a house to film in, and Rex provided a un-tenanted property. Well, the same producer, Steve Deery of Pondweed Productions has had his new short feature short-listed for an award; he’s made it to the second round and if you go and have a watch of it, you’ll help him to the prize. So pop over to and give it a go.



The Square Meeting: A Thank You.

Thursday afternoon, and I leave my house to walk into Beeston and pick up Issue 15 of The Beestonian from our printers. Defying the Met Office predictions, snow is starting to fall. It continues to do so for some time and it decides, wisely I suppose, that Beeston is a fine place and it would like to settle.

I love snow, and still get a childish thrill when I open the curtains and find that the clouds have iced the environs. I never understand those who moan about the temporal transormation: you get about 360 days of non-snow a year, you spoilt gits. Enjoy it. Other wise you side with the utterly dull soul-suckers that is the CBI; who seem to exist not to promote business but to cheerlessly tell us how much anything that adds some colour, some grit, some soul to our lives costs us. This is normally an arbitary figure made up by getting horrifically drunk on Creme de Menthe and randomally pressing the numbers on a calculator whilst blindfold.

However, Thursday afternoon was only the second time in my life I’ve looked a snow and thought ‘Oh no’. The first was when a blizzard hit my attempt to climb the High Atlas a few years ago, where my guide fell to the floor, determined East and threw a series of high-speed Arabic prayers in that direction. So not as bad, but still. My first arranged public meeting was in jepordy.

I decided to monitor the situation and make a decision at six pm. At six pm the snow was still relentless, the temperature outside was minus 3 and I could not envisage anyone of sane mind attending. How wrong I was.

I turned up around ten past seven to find a small crowd gathered, stomping in the cold, outside John Clifford School. After some initial problems locating the door I was to gain access to the building, I eventually got the event open and watched in awe as around 80 people strolled through. We had a meeting on.

A report on the ins and outsof the meeting is in the pipeline, we may also have a video of proceedings: stay tuned. To precis, however, it was a lively, constructive and entertaining debate: a few myths busted, some great questions asked and I hope my sub-Dimbleby skillz did enough to stop it slipping into a polarised, politically partisan debate: that got us into this mess in the first place.

I’m amazed not just by the attendance but by the sheer passion – a word that was bandied about a fair bit that night-of Beestonians. You DO care about your town. The Thatcherite ambition of community polarisation and the purely indivulistic concerns of a town were proven to be guff. I’ve seldom been prouder than being a Beestonian than I was when this was demonstrated. Well done, Beeston.

A full report, plus pictures from the wonderful local photo-journalists Lewis Stainer and James Hall will follow, but I simply had to post something to thank you, and vent my joy at being part of this town. We’re a bit ace, aren’t we?


Bit of an ambivalent write up in the press. BBC Radio Nottingham ran a great piece the morning of the event; a pre-record article I helped with the afternoon before. The Nottingham Post gave a small write up, and their star journalist and upwardly-mobile reporter Alex Britton attended. The Beeston Express turned an impressive editorial trick by getting us into Friday’s issue, just hours after we finished. I’ve had a few comments since friday  about what was written, generally deciding The B.E. is a rival. I’d like to state on record that I do run a newspaper and blog, but in no way have I ever viewed them as ‘the enemy’. The fact Beeston has TWO independant local publications is pretty incredible, and symptomatic of a healthy town that likes debate. Media plurality, especially at a local level, is key to a healthy vibrant democracy. The very fact that myself, as editor of The Beestonian, often disagrees with the editorial line of Sheila Eden, Editor of The Beeston Express, should be seen as a positive thing. Who knows, we may even get a campaign together some time….


Beestonia Invites You: Be There or Be (not having your say about the) Square.

Tomorrow, in case it’s slipped your mind, is the public meeting that I have arranged in Beeston to debate the issue of The Square. It’s being held at John Clifford School on Nether Street, from 7.30pm until 9pm. It’s, of course, free, but to cover costs I’ll be asking for a small donation to cover the cost of room hire. Any excess will be distributed 50/50 between Oxjam 2013 and the school’s chosen funds.

On the panel will be Director at Henry Boot, James Greenway; and a local Borough Councillor representing the Council Planning Committee. I’m asked a few others too, but am still awaiting response. I will be chairing the meeting, inviting questions from the floor about the future of Beeston and anything else you would like discussed. Hopefully, there will lively, productive debate, and maybe, just maybe, a more defined vision set down. We can all but hope.

Please arrive promptly and use the car-park entrance at John Clifford. We have room for 150 attendees and their is full access for wheelchair users. If you can’t attend, we should be having a live stream on the web active: many thanks to the good people at Hex Productions for providing this. I’ll post exactly where you can access this once we confirm it’s possible.

Also, I’d like to apologise if you have sent me an email over the last week and not had a response: I’ve been incredibly tied up with The Beestonian (we should have Issue 15 out tomorrow); but will be spending a chunk of time later tonight workign my way through. I’ve never had so much response to any issue: it’s been rather overwhelming. Let’s make sure our voice gets heard loud and clear.

Also, I’m on BBC Radio Nottingham’s Breakfast Show tomorrow (I seem to spend so much time on their I’m going to see if I can get a rebate on my license fee), talking about The Square in a feature they’re running.

Right, off to go off and slip into a 24 hour panic that kicks in every time I think about speaking to an audience. See you tomorrow!







Beeston Square: Henry Boot Speaks.

James Greenway, Director at Henry Boot, has send me the following hughly interesting piece with permisson to publish in full, giving the developers side of the story. Also, he will (schedule permitting) be attending the public meeting I am setting up at John Clifford School on Thursday, 17th January . Over to James:

To: Matt Goold

Re: Beeston Square

Following our meeting at the consultation event held on 4 January, I now write as requested with a little more information regarding our involvement in The Square Shopping Centre at Beeston.

We purchased the Centre in late 2003 with a view to developing out within a period of 2 years.

Just as we were about to finalise our initial proposals there was talk in the local media of NET extending the tram line through Beeston. At that point there were many routes concerned one being a route which took out the entirety of the “Argos block of accommodation” and the other which saw the tram stops being placed on Station Road and Middle Street. We then commenced working with the Council (Peter Stone, former Head of Planning) to look at which tram alignment suited Beeston the best.

There was a clear desire from the Council and ourselves to locate the tram stops closest to the town centre to ensure that people did not have to walk to the edge of town to locate the transport interchange.

The next 7 years were taken up liaising with NET and dealing with the recession which put the NET proposals into jeopardy on more than one occasion. Not knowing if a tram was about to demolish half the centre clearly made it impossible for us to plan ahead and look at any new development indeed the local authority at that time said they would resist any application by ourselves due to grounds of prematurity as they clearly wanted the tram to be crystallised before we were then allowed to progress.

During the corresponding periods Braemore Developments developed out their residential scheme adjacent as well as Tesco and perhaps it is our fault that we did not take a more aggressive line with the planners instead choosing to work with the local authority rather than against them. However during the last three years we have worked with the Council and their appointed representative at Cushman & Wakefield in London to try and put together a development agreement which would see the entirety of the site including the current Square Shopping Centre, bus station, multi-storey car park and fire station developed out into one cohesive development. Negotiations were proceeding well, however as soon as we got into the legal process the advice that was given to the Council was at odds with our own and negotiations faltered.

The constantly changing retail market post recession has meant we have constantly had to redesign our proposals and when we eventually tried again to deal with the Council and the representative at Cushman & Wakefield regarding a more efficient scheme we were again told that our proposals were not appropriate despite several assurances from Members and retail consultants that our plans were appropriate. At the start of 2012 we therefore decided to work with what we did own and to some extent ignore the Council’s other ownerships as our investment had suffered serious decline due to the NET issue and we felt a development was urgently required to arrest this decline. The years of NET’s prevarication and slipping deadlines has done nothing to help the retail environment within The Square with many units becoming vacant and new tenants refusing to sign up given the uncertainty they faced. In April 2012 NET took possession of the majority of the units within the Argos block and this has further resulted in poor trade for the centre and retail units having to look

out onto empty units which does nothing to enhance our ability to either let the units or get retailers to view them in a positive light. We therefore thought it a necessity to formulate a plan which would revive the centre and whilst we have had to work with a number of current tenants we are able to obtain vacant possession of a block of The Square which has resulted in the plans you viewed on 4 January.

In the recent past we have tried to work with Wilkinsons to relocate them within the centre, however this was not possible and Wilkinsons pulled out of the process leaving us to redesign the scheme once again.

Given the feedback we have had since the consultation I fully appreciate that the refurbishment is never going to be as popular as a knock it down and start again scheme, however we do have to work with our current retail tenants and keep them trading whilst we build around them which is no easy task hence the fact we need to refurbish elements where existing tenants will be and rebuild where we are able.

In terms of the public consultation itself the event was exceedingly well attended with 229 people coming along on the day and 174 people completing the questionnaires. Despite the press early indications show that over 97% of the people who completed the questionnaires supported the principle of redeveloping The Square and over 70% of these agreed that the proposal has a positive benefit to the area. We are now in the process of tabulating specific comments and suggested changes which we are in the process of feeding back to our design team and amending the scheme where appropriate. Obtaining the opinions of 174 individuals is a very high response rate and provides us with a clear overview of public opinion of the scheme. It is worth pointing out that the public will also have an opportunity to comment through the application process itself.

Clearly the general public, Henry Boot Developments and the Council are keen to see a strong development for the area and as I have explained to you before we are keen to liaise with the Council to see if the bus station, former multi-storey car park and fire station site can indeed be developed if not in conjunction probably as a Phase 2 element of the scheme in due course. I have sent a letter to the Council in this regard.

I appreciate that at some points it has looked like nothing has been happening, we assure you we have been working very hard at every opportunity to progress the scheme in Beeston having invested a significant amount of money in the area in late 2003. We are committed to Beeston and the project and will continue to move it forward as best as we are able, however we will need to work with the local Council to deliver the scheme as quickly as possible.

There also appears to be some comment that we could not name retailers who will be coming into the scheme. I would point out that given that there is so much vacant space within secondary town centres retailers are not committing to sites until they are 6-9 months away from delivering the final units therefore we have taken this opportunity to go for a flexible planning consent after which it will be marketed to the entire spectrum of retailers but because planning has been agreed we will be a further 3-4 months of the way through the process allowing retailers to commit with certainty to the town centre.

As indicated in your blog I am more than happy to attend any meeting organised by yourselves or the Council to discuss the wider development scheme.

Should you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards.

Yours sincerely

James Greenway


A quick post to first thank you all for the massive response to the last few posts: a debate is now underway and it’s encouraging to see how much you care about the town. I’ve had around 3,000 unique visitors in the last five days; that’s a significant chunk of Beeston who are keen to get involved in the debate.

Thanks to all of you who have pledged help: I’m quite overwhelmed and if I haven’t replied yet, I will, it’s just taking a lot longer to do than expected. While running this campaign I’m also putting together Issue 15 of The Beestonian, and be a full-time househusband; as such I’m typing this whilst wearing an apron.

Anyhows, as promised, I have arranged a meeting for the public to talk to the parties involved in the issue, and this will be held on Thursday January 17th at The John Clifford School, Nether Street, Beeston (behind Tesco garage). It will kick off at 7.30pm and run till 9pm, and all are invited. It’s free to enter though there is a suggested donation of a pound to cover room hire costs. Any excess will be split 50/50 between a charity of the school’s chosing and Beeston Oxjam 2013.

I have pledges from Henry Boot and councillors to attend, and will inform them of the dates and times in due course for confirmation. I want it to be a chance for you to directly talk to the relevant parties. It is only fair that we have a voice in the future of Beeston: here is your chance.

I’ve also cobbled together a Facebook Event, as one is obliged to these days:

See you a week on Thursday!

A Square Deal? More on the ‘development’; Time to get round the table?

A staggering response to the last post, it seems that the majority aren’t happy, either.

Reading your comments,  on here, Facebook and Twitter, it seems you’re not happy for the following reasons:

  • The lack of notice regarding the consultation exhibition.
  • The timing – when most people are stuck at work- of the exhibition.
  • The lack of ambition of the plans
  • The lack of a coherant complete plan for Beeston

The first point is one that didn’t just affect the people of Beeston, but also it’s politicians. It seems that a few were told, but for their own reasons, decided not to flag up this info. Please ask your councillor when they knew, and why they didn’t let you know beforehand. Their details can be found here. It’s also been suggested that some Tory councillors were very aware of this…but decided not to shout about it. Other rumours suggest Beeston West Councillors, both Labour, also knew, but didn’t inform others: hence Pat and Lynda Lally, as well as Steve Barber and Frank Prince (and possibly many more) only found out at the last moment. If you have more info to refute or confirm these rumours, please send in a comment.

The timing is also a moot point, it did seem rather buried, though the exhibition was actually well-attended, according to Henry Boot. Miss it? Well, you can now view the plans here.

The lack of ambition, however, seems to be the issue you’re most disappointed about. I agree, it looks less like a complete renewal and more like a tidying up exercise. The lack of a confirmed anchor store, the retention of most of the Square’s features such as the bandstand and Stumpy, who we have long campaigned to have moved to a more sympathetic site; and the non-return of Wilkos. This isn’t entirely down to Henry Boot, however. They don’t own the land south and north of the Square, so they can’t do much there. Wilkos were offered plenty of option to return, with Henry Boot bending over backwards to secure their return. A large unit was set aside and provision made for a service yard, but wilkos took the money and ran. Anchor stores, such as M&S and Waitrose have been grinding down the rumour mill for a while, and I have it on very good authority that Waitrose were all but signed up. Commercial confidentiality prevents HB from disclosing who they are in talks with, though Costa Coffee are all but confirmed (bad news for the wonderful independant cafes that Beeston boasts). Have HB been so frustrated with planning obfuscation and lack of council support they have shrugged their shoulders, cut their losses and just rehashed the Lace Market tram stop? I really can’t lay too much blame on them if this is so. Again, as with the tram, as with Tesco, the politics of the issue muddy the waters.

This leads onto the last point. We have a fantastic town. The University gives us a constant stream of vitality. We’re soon to have a fast and efficent way to get here from the campus and town. Some of our shops are utterly unique, and we’ve managed to prevent the vile creep  of Everytownism seep in. People like living here, we’re a pretty little town, nicely pedestrinised. We, however, need to sort a lot out. It’s taken over a decade just to get the renovation of one corner off the draughtsman’s desk. This is simply unacceptable.

It’s time to demand an ambitious, coherant, joined up plan. Nothing else will do: it is the only way we can avoid the unsustainable, incongruous mess our town threatens to become. I therefore propose a public meeting, involving local politicians, developers, and, most importantly, the public. Let’s ALL sit down, and thrash out a plan. If no-one else is willing to run it, I will, and most importantly, while the public consultancy is underway (so, within the next fortnight). Whose in? Let me know, and I’ll get cracking pulling together the right people. Email me directly at




In Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the stories hero, Arthur Dent, finds that a bypass is about to be built through his house. When he remonstrates with the demolition foreman, Mr Prosser, who has come to tear down his home, he is told that he had plenty of time during the public consultancy:

PROSSER: But Mr. Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months!

ARTHUR: Yes, well, as soon as I heard, I went straight round to see them. You hadn’t gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody.

PROSSER: The plans were on display—

ARTHUR: On display? I had to go down to the cellar to find them!

PROSSER: That’s the display department!

ARTHUR: With a flashlight.

PROSSER: The lights had probably gone out.

ARTHUR: So had the stairs.

PROSSER: But you found the notice, didn’t you?

ARTHUR: Yes, I did. It was “on display” in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying, “Beware of the Leopard.”

Now. I’m not saying that the plans for the Square redevelopment were quite so clandestinely kept from view, but for a public consultation, they weren’t exactly very, well, public.

Although briefly mentioned in the Beeston Express, The Nottingham Post didn’t seem to recieve a press release, and it seems that even Councillor Pat Lally didn’t get wind of it until this morning. Perhaps, in this digital age, you can just pop online and have a look for yourself? Err, no. If you want to see the plans in any detail, you’ll need to be sent an email from Henry Boot Developers which will have a PDF file with the details on. How do you get that email? By giving your email address. And you can only do that at, errr, the public consultation (though I’m sure they’d oblige if you directly contact them at ). Naturally, I’ll upload the file when / if I recieve it.

Surely the plans could be have left up in the library over Saturday? Even if this means that the staff from Henry Boot were not in attendance, it could prove to be interesting nonetheless.

But why this shyness? Well, I doubt it’s anything to do with any controversies of the design; but more to do with it’s lack of ambition. Have a look at this:

This is the outline plan. It’s not easy, at first glance to work out what’s going on, so here’s how it looks  when placed in context to other landmarks:

So, a decade of waiting for Beeston to recieve  a facelift it so desperately needs and …well, not a lot is actually being done. We’ll get that bit of Square and the precinct done, but…nothing else. The demolished bus station? The fire station? Wasteland. Remember the Station Street rubble pile that replaced the fine facade of Beeston Lad’s Club, the bombsite look-a-like that made even the building of Tesco seem like a step in the right aethetic direction? Well, it’s crossed the road.

I asked the director of Henry Boot, a smartly-suited young man called James Greenaway, what they’d do about it. ‘We want to get cracking as soon as possible on this first development. We bought the site a decade ago and assumed it would be developed in two, maybe three years. No one wants to see empty units’ . Would they  then develop the wasteland? ‘The Council own that, but of course we’d like to’. I ask why it’s taken so long ‘ We’ve been greatly frustrated in ways we never expected.’

So this seems to be the time scale now. Assuming planning consent is granted, work will begin in Autumn, to tie in with the tram works, and completed, more or less in tandem with the tram, in the spring/ summer of 2014. That would then probably lead to a planning application hitting the council for development of the wasteland in 2015. If the same faffing that has hit this primary development occurs again, we therefore can expect any meaningful completion of a coherant centre of Beeston in, oooooh, around 2025.

Why these delays? Could it be related to the fact rival developers Cushman and Wakefield were bought in as consultants for a large fee to advise on the development. Maybe they were happy to oppose and prevaricate in order to keep raking in the consultancy fees? Any experts in the field of development, please feel free to get in touch.

I will post up any files I get from Henry Boot, and would welcome comment from all parties: this is, after all a public consultancy. I have more info, particularly on the prospective retailers who will be coming in, but that’s a secondary issue right now so will write it up over the weekend. I have paper copies of a couple of the plans and will pass them on to anyone who wants to, and will host the full plans when recieved. Beeston is changing – albeit in a rather underwhelming fashion-be part of it.

Beeston in YOUR Hands; The NHS in Soub’s.

A Happy New Year to you all, and if the year continues as its started then we’re in for a very interesting time.

First up, I best draw your attention to a Very Important Thing. I often get asked what Beeston will look like post-development: not just the tram-works, but the massive overhaul of the Square too. I only know what’s in the public domain, or when I get leaked something. Problem with leaks is that they are never on demand and normally come with vested interest. So I explain the best I can, subject to what I’ve heard up till then.

All ambiguity of what we may have foist upon us over the next few months and years will be laid asunder on Friday, 4th January. Between 10.30am – 5pm Beeston Library will play host to the plans before they are submitted to the appropriate bodies. It’s pretty vital you get down there then, and have a look; if you don ‘t like what you see then you’ll be against the clock to raise concerns.

This public consultation is a statutory requirement, and any views on this draft proposal need to be heard asap. It seems to have been publicised very lightly; it was only a fluke I got to hear about it. Developers prefer to let things slip through without objection, so it’s no surprise, I suppose. However, if you have concerns for the future of this town, and the direction it’s heading, I urge you to attend.


Those of you stuck in last night, due to either rampant hangover or misguided resolution, may have switched over to University Challenge, where as it’s Christmas semi-famous alumni are rock up to represent their alma-maters. Lo, behold, last night Birmingham’s Captain was our own Dear Leader, who bought her always welcome semi-sneer to the small screen. Rather strangely, she neglected to mention this high-profile appearance in the email news-shot she circulated earlier in the day. Baffling, and not at all connected to the trouncing her team received from UEA (featuring the wonderful Charlie Higson). Weird that.


She did however talk at length about the economy, and how due to

‘the continuing crisis in the Eurozone and the varying difficulties in the world economy mean we have not made all the progress we had hoped for’

This seems to be the default line now: blame external pressures, not us. Which is a horrendously hypocritical line when you think about the last two years, whereby the sole reason we were in the midst of a financial crisis was ‘the inheritance left to us by the last government’. Surely that crisis was caused by the, errr, largest, most wide-spread credit crunch and market-crash ever recorded? Maybe that played a part? Nah, it was benefit claimants, NHS overspends and DEFINITELY NOT ANYTHING ELSE. Definitely not. Nope, it was YOU, parasite. How dare you think that libraries, schools and healthcare were rights? The bankers, the tax- avoiders, the scum bucket hedge-funders and private-equity asset-strippers ARE TOTALLY INNOCENT. To prove it, Hector Sants, head of the FSA at the time of the crash and a devotee to light-touch regulation, gets a Knighthood; nurses, teachers and any other public sector worker can look forward to pay-freezes and pink-slips. Just so it’s clear.


The economy is far from Soubz top priority now. I can’t see a move to the Treasury for her anytime soon, but I wouldn’t rule out a directly vertical move. Her boss right now is walking grin-goon and toy-troll look-a-like Jeremy Hunt, a chap so prone to idiotic disaster even a moment of amateur campanology nearly ended in manslaughter. I doubt he’ll last the full run, reshuffle or no reshuffle, as his brief is well above his pay grade and more dirt relating to impropriety with the SKY bid is bound to surface soon. This could see Soubz on the ascent once again, and directly in charge of the NHS and it’s unwelcome reforms/disintegration.

Over December, paper’s relating to Special Cabinet Meeting were released under the 30-year rule. One of the most shocking revelations was Thatcher and co debating a radical change in healthcare. The following is from these releases, and relate to a report commissioned by a think-tank and discussed at length:

“It is therefore worth considering aiming over a period to end the state provision of healthcare for the bulk of the population, so that medical facilities would be privately owned and run, and those seeking healthcare would be required to pay for it”

Woah. It may be worth remembering that earlier that year, Thatcher had appeared at the Tory Party Conference in Brighton and, in her leadership speech, vowed that the NHS was ‘Safe with us’.

Conservative Party Conference, Brighton 1982, by Paul Brason, 1982-1985 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Which uncannily rings down the ages, and is heard tinkling out of the copywriter and spin-doctors pen on this famous poster. Remember it?

Oh, one of the author’s of the aforementioned report presented to the 1982 Cabinet? Gordon Wasserman, who now is ennobled as Lord Wasserman and David Cameron’s current advisor on crime and policing. Quelle surprise.

Can we save a lot of bother and Polly Toynbee columns by cutting to the chase here? Anna Soubry, David Cameron and all Tories will never be comfortable with anything that smacks of collectivism. The NHS, the welfare state, the BBC, and everything else that WE own, and own as a society,  rather than have to buy or rent off some vulgar kleptocrat is utterly non-U. Anathema to their ideals and innate, difficult to repress snobbery. There is no moderation, no Third Way, no la nouvelle politique.

So expect the frequency to only increase of the unedifying sight of Soubry defending the NHS with her gob while gutting it with her signing- pen. Happy 2013.