Tebbit and The Self-Inseminating Lesbian Queens / Barton Pauses / The Legal Crack Dealers of Beeston High Road.

Tebbit recoiling from the phallic nature of the microphone.

Tebbit recoiling from the phallic nature of the microphone.

Huge thanks to all those who read and commented on the last post regarding gay marriage: it certainly bought out some strong, and very well argued comments. The level of debate is certainly more nuanced than that which raged in Parliament and continues to rage in the press: whether it be the idiocy of bigots such as Sir Gerald Howarth and his ‘aggressive homosexual community’ , or that perennial purveyor of swivel-eyed bat-shit Lord Tebbit, who railed against equality by claiming we could have a lesbian queen artificially inseminating herself; as well as threatening to marry his son to avoid inheritance tax. Nothing has been quite as amusing and well-argued as this fantastic speech:

The bill has passed, and should get through the Lords. Now, let’s all get on with our lives, as equals. And let’s face it, all marriages are a bit gay anyway.

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Simon Barton....into hibernation.

Simon Barton….into hibernation.

Some bad news confirmed today, with Simon Barton packing up Barton’s and putting it in storage until at least 2015. I’ve heard this might have been the case for some time, and hoped it wasn’t true, but alas.

I rang Simon earlier to chat about it, and his explanation is one of pragmatism: he can hardly promise customers – by this he means not just people attending the events, but those who are part of them, such as market traders- a guarantee that he can stay open several months ahead. The tram works have a dual effect on Barton’s: although you can drive by there now, there is no through route so the buses and cars that would pass each day no longer do so: and Barton’s loses it’s best form of promotion, it’s ‘shop window’. The second problem is one of access, and as the tram works rumble down Chilwell Road this becomes a greater issue.

He’s not bitter about this, and promises to be back. ‘If you said to me ‘does this work?’, well, it does’ he tells me ‘and if you ask me will it work again, well, from the positive feedback I receive I’d have to say ‘yes, and more so”. But? ‘If you ask me if it will work right now…well, I can’t take that risk’. He is adamant that Barton’s will rise again, once the works are complete.

Bartons031

This isn’t just bad news for Barton’s and those who enjoyed the diverse, often bizarre,  wonderful events the venue hosted. It’s bad news for Beeston, and particularly Chilwell Road, which hardly needs another knock right now. The knock-on effect could be considerable, and that is worrying. I have long stated my love of Chilwell Road and it’s independence, it’s freedom from the monotony and economically draining effects of multi-nationals and chains. If it survives the tramworks, we’ll have a strong reason for people to use the tram to come to us, rather than go into town. I see it’s existence as key to the ‘soul’ of Beeston, it’s unique, arty, enthusiastic heart. If we lose it, we take another step towards becoming  AnyTown.

So what to do? You tell me: I want to hear your opinions, your ideas. Let’s do what we do best in Beeston, and work together on this problem. Broxtowe Borough Council: it’s imperative you look into this, and try and identify a solution. I’m not asking that any special treatment is dished out; but I do ask you to consider the wider picture. A few months, I was asked to be a witness at a council meeting looking into how to boost the night-time economy. They do care, I’m sure. Yet Beeston is not made of autonomous entities operating individually: it’s a holistic town, historically so. It’s what gives us that precious commodity: civic pride, community spirit. Once lost, it’s near impossible to claw back.

Your comments, please.

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There is another worrying development in Beeston. Now, some people attack the High Street for it’s prelavence of charity shops, but I’m a fan. I’d prefer a charity shop than no shop at all, and as one on a limited budget, shop frequently from them. My house has many articles, including a lovely walnut wardrobe, from such shops. Then there are the causes they support: we have a diverse range, so you can even do your shopping with a choice on where you want your pennies to go off to.

I recently worked on a piece for Issue 19 of The Beestonian, about ViTal, the newish charity shop in the centre of town. We were looking at a fairly light-hearted piece around how they’d managed to get there hands on loads of stuff from the London Olympics, from tracksuits used by the games-makers to the ironing boards used in the Athletes Village. It’s a great charity called Young Potential that is behind the shop, an organisation dedicated to providing emotional and educational support to young people aged 13 to 18 with learning disabilities. They offer programmes and training, all of which revolve around their music, arts and drama facilities, all designed to increase self-confidence and produce healthy, emotionally literate,  responsible and happy adults.

But Theresa, the charities founder, later got in touch with me. She was upset. Apparently, Ladbrokes appeared yesterday, and started putting up signage. When questioned on what they were doing, Theresa was told that they had bought up the lease and would be evicting them soon. This came as something of a shock, as ViTal had no forewarning. They threatened to sue the charity for loss of takings should they put up any resistance.

This is disgraceful behaviour. While some moan about charity shops in Beeston, the real scourge is ignored. Since the credit crunch, the greatest growth business in Beeston has been the scum – and I don’t use that term lightly, they are a disgrace to humanity –  the scum that set out to exploit the poor.

Money lenders who trap the otherwise credit-disenfranchised into appalling, inescapable spirals of debt . Pawnbrokers who lure in the desperate. Bookies who are little better than legalised crack-dealers.

Now, you might think I’m being extreme here. Thing is, I actually like a gamble here and there. I always throw a quid in for a game of Sticky 13 if it’s being played in a pub, despite not winning since 2004. I spent most Saturdays as a child with my gran in St. Apleford bingo hall, being fussed by gravelly voiced, huge-cigarette wielding matriarchs.

But Ladbrokes and their ilk have taken things further. A liberalisation in the gambling laws – they are very powerful lobbyists – has allowed bookies to install FOBTs: Fixed Odd Betting Terminals. These are high-stakes machines that allow gamblers to stake vast amounts, up to £100 every 20 seconds. They are so effective at extracting money from punters they now account for around 50% of a bookies turnover, but 80% of their  profits, in excess of a staggering £2.4 billion a year. The non-profit campaign group Fairer Gambling estimates that at least £250 million of this is from ‘problem gamblers’: those whose habits lead to family breakdown, crime, and high debt.

Betting shops are aggressively expanding around Britain, such is the potential to suck up cash. At present, each shop is only allowed four FOBTs, so the more shops, the more terminals. With an estimated 450,000 problem gamblers in the UK, the bookies are desperate to ensure they can squeeze enough out of each one. Hence the disproportionate amount of betting shops with FOBTs in poorer areas.

‘So what? They bring jobs, they pay taxes, don’t they?’ you may reply. Well, it’s not as clear as that.

The machines, according to the Campaign For Fairer Gambling, kill two jobs for each they create. As for tax, the amount collected set against the cost of mitigating the effects of gambling – kids taken into care, crime etc – probably means that they actually take more than they give. Even if this is not the case, it still is a wickedly retrogressive tax.

Again, let me state that I’m not against gambling. But FOTBs are to the odd flutter what crack cocaine is to a cheeky pint after work. Stop them kicking out ViTal with such bully-boy tactics.

____________________

We’ll wrap up on a  much lighter note, with possibly the best thing ever, featuring the ultra-photogenic Jimmy Wiggins from The Guitar Spot: http://wigginsinthepub.tumblr.com/

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10 thoughts on “Tebbit and The Self-Inseminating Lesbian Queens / Barton Pauses / The Legal Crack Dealers of Beeston High Road.

  1. David Watts says:

    Matt, I’ve asked the council’s head of the built environment to look at this and see what we can do. David

  2. Team Wiggins says:

    Ref all this Barton’s malarkey…. Simon Barton’s complaint and predicament is no different to that of all other traders on the road. Really sad to see him fold like this, ideally he should take influence from the new monday market that carly operates another market there on the basis of the monday one, I believe that to be positive action. I find Simon’s sudden change of heart puzzling and dissapointing. To all the other traders on this road it gives the danger of thinking well if johnny big bannana’s is going what chance do we stand… As soon as multiple closures happen the road is doomed. I have lost no respect for Simon Barton- he is community minded and a good guy, shame on this occasion he hasn’t stuck to his guns

  3. Si says:

    Still gutted about Bartons, haven’t been able to find a venue, party is off 😦 Hope it all comes good in the end.

  4. Joan says:

    “……and Barton’s loses it’s best form of promotion, it’s ‘shop window’.

    Why? Where did the window go to?

    I have found it easier to get to the shops along this part of Beeston in the past few weeks than it was before the tram works started. When the sun was out the other weekend hordes of people were walking up and down Chilwell Road.

    One couple I met even likened the street to Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

  5. A shame about Barton’s; especially as I have performed there as part of Hanby & Barratt’s Raleigh play last year. If fact it was the worlds premiere of the new work about the local cycle company.

    As TrentBarton will be running the new line, I wonder if Simon has a vested interest in it, and so is not complaining too much; unlike other traders who have seen takings drop since the closure of the road?

    I hope some legal action can be taken against Ladcrooks. I agree any shop is better than no shop, but bookies are nothing more than legalised thieves

  6. Fluffles says:

    I would like to echo Joan’s comments above – I find Chilwell Road far more pleasant now that there is no traffic. I would encourage everyone to take a stroll along and make use of the shops – the Deli is excellent!

  7. Simon Barton says:

    Hi Christopher,

    I know you have been a fan of what we have been doing here at Bartons, and have been a frequent visitor for which I am grateful; however, I have to step in to point out it is very unfair to make any connection between this company or me, and the tram. There is absolutely none.

    Have a read of this, if you can find the time:

    http://www.bartonsplc.co.uk/index.php/info/bartons-news/4

    Far from being involved in the current tram, Bartons were the business that helped save Beeston from the last tram proposals, originally given permission to run on High Road Chilwell in 1903.

    You can imagine that any rumour of a connection to the current scheme would be deeply harming to the reputation of my family, particularly as we are local residents.

    I am happy to put the record straight, as I am also happy to point out that far from not complaining, I certainly am complaining, just like other traders.

    Hope to see you soon,

    Simon

  8. angusdavison says:

    I passed by the ViTal shop today – there is notice of an application for a gaming licence for Ladbrokes. If it is not too late, and there are good grounds, then one possible solution would be to contest the application.

    I echo the comments re. Chilwell High Road – it is a wonderful place to walk along now there is no traffic! The deli is awesome.

    Only 19 more to go before the big 1000 ….

  9. rutty says:

    There are other empty units on the high street – why would Ladbrooke’s even need to move into that particular one?

  10. Joan says:

    Mr Barton – I wonder if you might not be allowing the views you say your family has had about the tram since 1903 to influence your thoughts about the possible effect the tram works will have on your business.

    I have had a life long fear of spiders. If a spider enters the room I rush out for fear that I might be bitten. Friends tell me that if I just carried on with whatever I am doing all would be well.

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