Mary Berry Beestonian / Smith’s Out? / Beestival / Begging Bowls / HS2: Folly or Saviour?

We have the Oxjam Beeston Bake Off on Saturday: so cancel any other plans and head up to Roundhill School to see the best of Beeston cake. We have a pop-up cafe, some local celebrity guests on the judging panels, and lots, lots more. Every penny we make goes to Oxjam directly, to both fund the festival and stick direct in our coffers.

We’re still keen to recieve more entries, so if you fancy bringing something along, or getting your kids to bring something along, we’d love to have you. More details, and an on-line application form, here .


Rumour comes in that another Beeston shop is to go, and this one is a biggee. Looks like WHSmith maybe leaving Beeston in November, leaving a huge hole in the High Street. No doubt the parasites of the recession will rub their hands in glee at this and rush to fill the space with bookies, pawnbrokers, legal loan sharks and other crap.

Ladbrokes won’t be one of them, at least not yet. They’ve already effectively forced the Young Ptential shop, ViTal, out of their premises so they stick a bookies full of Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (the crack-cocaine of betting) into a premise handily opposite a pub, to cream off as much money off the vulnerable before a minister has the balls to set out legislation to regulate these scummy gits.

The way they have treated ViTal has been a dreadful case of bullying and intimidation: a fuller report on this will be online later this week.


Fantastic times at Beestival in Broadgate Park on Friday. I manned a stall promoting Oxjam and The Beestonian, albeit reluctantly as the weather forecast was predicting monsoons. These never appeared, however, and we had a beautiful evening with the ever fantastic Emma Bladon Jones headlining. If this works on a Friday, then how about a few of these events every Summer?


Lord B showing why he should leave the stage to the professionals….photo courtesy of the ever ace Chris Frost (check his blog out at



And while we’re on the subject of The Beestonian, we’re about to take a step up and make it 50% bigger, with 12 pages instead of 8. Tamar, our assistant editor and design queen, has totally restructured it: we’re gorgeous.

But funding is always precarious, and printing ain’t cheap. As we’re not-for-profit, any shortfall can delay us considerably. So we really need your help; either in sponsorship, advertising or donation. If you’d like to help in anyway, please contact us at .


My monthly column in The Nottingham Post was published on Saturday, and it is once again on a transport theme (odd that I seem to write about that. I rarely leave Beeston and tend to walk everywhere. Still, writing about stuff you’re not part of is no barrier. Soubry had a column in The Beeston Express for 3 years).

For balance, a fan of HS2, Cllr. Steve Barber, has written the following in support of the superfast choo-choo….over to Steve…

Why HS2?: By Steve Barber.

It’s all about capacity. The roads and railways to the south and beyond are at capacity. If you want to be in London for a 9.00am meeting you must either go by train, stand for at least part of the journey there or back and pay through the nose or set off at 5.00am by car, probably get stuck in a jam then pay through the nose for parking and congestion charge. We need another way into London and to the continent. What are the options?

 Motorway or Railway?

Let’s do a bit of maths;

  • A car every 2 seconds in each lane of a 3 lane motorway carriageway with 1.5 people per car equates to 8,100 people per hour.
  • HS2 is designed for up to 18 trains per hour each with a capacity of 1,100 passengers; 19,800 people per hour.


So we could build one High speed line or two six lane motorways. I know which I prefer from an environmental argument.



A train on High speed 1 next to the 6 lane M2. The railway has twice the capacity of the motorway with less than half the land take.

 Why not invest in our current railway?

When I worked for Nick Palmer as MP we saw several Secretaries of State and Ministers of Transport lobbying for improvements to our Midland Main Line. We eventually got a commitment to enhance and electrify the line, which is now underway. However, we were told that this is as far as improvements can go. The line is Victorian, designed to primarily carry coal and beer and is too full of twists, restrictions and structures which cannot be rectified without demolishing huge areas in Leicester, Market Harborough, Kettering, Luton and elsewhere. A brand new line would eventually be needed.

Do we need to travel?

The rest of the world seems to say yes. In Britain long distance rail travel has increased by 65% over the last 10 years.

Rail patronage UK


Rail travel in the UK has steadily increased


In Europe they keep on building more High Speed lines:

High Speed lines by country

Country         Existing               under construction

Spain            1285                               1104

France          1185                                 131

Germany        803                                 236

Italy                577                                     0

UK                  71                                      0

Do the economics stack up?

The National Audit Office has recently commented that the economic case is not proven. We are talking of economies in the time period 2030 to 2100, can anyone predict what will happen then? Could Queen Victoria possibly envisage Motorways, the internet, jet airline travel and Skype? So let’s look at what we do know:

London and the South East is a lot better off economically that we are. The latest unemployment figures show:

  • 1 in 8 unemployed in North Nottingham; 1 in 20 in the South East
  • A man in the South East earns on average 67% more than a woman in Nottingham North.(both in full time employment)
  • Sixteen people chasing every job in parts of Nottingham. Two in the South East.


There is a need to encourage employers into the regions; employment always has gone along with good connectivity.

Historical Content

During the period after the war, when we were heavily in debt, we, along with most of the world invested in a motorway infrastructure. There can be little doubt that this encouraged economic activity, leading to prosperity in the 60’s and beyond. Over the last half century the motorways have served us well, but times change and we now need a low energy, high speed, low environmental impact answer. It can be argued that West Germany led the way; a country in ruins in 1945 but by 1975 the economic powerhouse of Europe. Albania found itself in a similar position but was unable to invest in infrastructure so regrettably became a back-water before being torn apart by strife in the 90’s.

We shall soon sit in a similar post recession position. Will we take the West German way forward or the Albanian?