New Deal Meeting: A Summary.

Saturday nights. According to Elton John, they’re alright for fighting. This thought rather unnerved me throughout Saturday, as I prepared for the New Deal public meeting. By awful coincidence, the Nottingham Post published a column I wrote a week or two back where I urged readers to get more angry about stuff. I also had it confirmed that Superdrug was to close, another High Street casualty. Would the meeting I called descend into angry anarchy? Would people even turn up? Why did I choose January to stop drinking, thus denying me the nerve-steadying jolt of a swiftly-gulped brandy.  My nerves were pretty shot by the time I got and my bike and cycled to John Clifford.

I needn’t have worried. The meeting was, I feel, a great success. The general mood was positive, imaginative, thoughtful and free of violence. A good swathe of Beeston’s population turned up, a good demographic mix where the only common bond was a sense of civic pride and a desire to live in aa good place. The debate was lively, fluent and became a forum for ideas, rather than a polarised row. 140 people in all turned up, the majority concerned residents but also representatives from the tram, borough and county councillors, the Civic and other local Societies, The Beeston Express, and many, many more.

The time flew by, and my notepad filled up as I attempted to take notes of ideas while chairing. I’m more used to attending meetings in a journalistic sense, sitting at the back and grabbing quotes. Trying to both Dimbleby and Simon Hoggart (RIP) is a tough task. Still, I think I got down a fair amount of stuff. Amongst the ideas you suggested:

  • Increased tree planting: Beeston, normally a leafy type of town, has looked notably bald of late, due to the tram works. Get the place green again.
  • A town centre fountain, or repositioning the war memorial from Broadgate Park to the Square, to give a defined centre and meeting point.
  • A focus on heritage: possibly a museum or heritage trail. Possibly the old police station?
  • A town council to lend more focus on the town (we presently don’t have a town or parish council, unlike most other towns in Broxtowe).
  • A more continental focus on development, away from retail and towards leisure. By continental, most people assume a Spanish square, and point out our weather is different. Yet such squares are common and thrive in Northern European countries too.
  • A ‘cultural quarter’. This could lend us a USP over Nottingham: make Beeston a cultural, arty hub. We have a huge amount of creative talent here, let’s celebrate it and let it define us.
  • Free wi-fi across the town.
  • Sunday / evening markets.
  • Stronger controls of student landlords to prevent areas becoming ‘Lenton-ised’; and make it a more welcoming and secure environment for students.
  • Better facilities for youngsters -a skatepark, perhaps?.
  • A large town centre noticeboard that advertises -for free-local events and facilities.
  • A sprucing up of Chilwell Road: the independent shops are there, let’s show them in the best possible light.
  • A printed and online map showing off our unique points.
  • An online resource to keep residents and visitors up to date on what is happening here: possibly using social media.
  • More civic space.
  • Greater communication regarding development. The Square plans submitted by Henry Boot did go through public consultation, but it was only when they were reported on this blog that people heard about them. Presently, they are displayed in Beeston Square in the window of what was Ashley Peake. Sadly, the bluetak has failed and they’ve fell over, so near impossible to see. Which, all things considered, might be for the best.
  • Acknowledgment of what great pubs we have here.
  • Consideration towards sustainable development.
  • A town centre clock (The Beeston Express is running a petition on this. To add your name, email enquiries@beestonexpress.co.uk ).
  • A ‘steering group’: similar to the way BID works, but instead of traders, locals who examine development ideas and pass on opinions: a sort of civic jury of residents who can therefore act as a voice for Beeston on development issues.
  • Lots, lots more….

I’ve been recieving and sending slews of emails around since Saturday, discussing how these ideas can be implemented, and what chance there is of them coming to fruition. I’m especially interested in the idea of a ‘Cultural Quarter’. Our town already has a depth of talent unlike anywhere I’ve ever known. When I started up The Beestonian, we thought we’d have to really dig hard to find talented creatives to write about. How very wrong we were. There is a stupid amount going on, musicians, artists, film makers, writers, comedians and so on. Oxjam, and the fund-raisers that preceded that, shone a bit of a light on this, but I feel it’s time to embrace this more thoroughly. I’m in talks with several people who have the power to help out to see how this can be done. I’ll keep you updated.

The idea of a ‘steering group’ would be beneficial also: as long if it was done properly. It has to be non-partisan, non-political and representative. One of the chief complaints I hear from people I talk to disgruntled by the tram-works and development is that they don’t feel there voices are being heard. Who truly wants the unambitious Henry Boot Square ‘development’? How do we stop stuff like this being foisted upon us by outsiders, how do we have a say? Getting together a group of Beestonians to act as a voice for Beeston can only be a good thing. One thing I’ve learnt over the past few years writing about Beeston is that we’re a town that isn’t shy to proffer opinion. Let’s get organised. I had loads of offers after the meeting to be part of something like this, and am still receiving emails. I am very happy to be part of it, and promote this idea as much as I can, but simply have too much on my plate to run it. Who fancies being a part – chairperson or member?

I’ll let you digest all that for a day or so, then I’ll report back on any developments and another element of the meeting: the myth-busting. Several  rumours were confirmed or struck down, I’ll explain more later.

I’m open to your ideas, so keep sending them in, either as a comment here or to mattgoold23@hotmail.com . Together, we can keep Beeston a fantastic place to live, and a unique gem amongst a sea of clone-towns.

 

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28 thoughts on “New Deal Meeting: A Summary.

  1. Judy S says:

    Regarding your comments about getting a group of Beeston people together, what exactly do you think the Beeston Civic Society is for?
    This society has recently celebrated 40 years of standing up for Beeston.We have a sub committee that looks at every plan that goes to the planning office and comments are made, we have saved buildings, OK we have lost sometimes, notably the Malting’s but we work hard for Beeston every week all year. We too had a very successful meeting last week at John Clifford and since then more people have joined us. We organise walks around Beeston, led by Professor John Beckett a leading authority on Beeston, this years walks currently being organised and we thank John for his very interesting walks and talks. We also organise the Heritage Weekend held in September. We hold monthly talks from September to April and have 3 very interesting speakers booked for February, March and April all at John Clifford School. Perhaps we do not always have our name in the public eye but we have been there behind the scenes working for Beeston for 40 years, maybe we need to shout a bit louder! We need more new members who care so come and join us,£7 membership, make a difference!
    Our website address, currently being updated is,
    http://www.beestoncivic society.org.UK
    PS There is a large town centre notice board, it’s in the square!

    • Nick Palmer says:

      Yes, as i said in my commentary I think that taking it forward through the Civic Society is one attractive option. The issues to consider are whether the membership fee is a significant barrier for many who would like to get involved for this particular issue but don’t have a wider interest, and whether the Society would like to take this proactive role campaigning for particular new approaches. I’ve been a member (if rather a passive one due to other commitments) for a long time, and the activities so far have been more of the “interesting discussion” kind with no particular follow-up, or a reaction to someone else’s proposal, rather than a campaigning approach to develop new features in an attractive and harmonious way. Would the Society want to organise a campaign like this?

    • beestonia says:

      Hi Judy, yes, I’m a huge fan of the Civic Society and write a column for the newsletter. I’m not as active as member as I perhaps should be, I’ll make that one of my resolutions for the new year. I did talk briefly to a member of the Civic Society post meeting, about how I didn’t want to help create something that was already there. If the Civic Society wish to take the concept forward, I’d be delighted. I think it would bring more people into the Civic Society and also bolster the profile. I would certainly not shy from promoting any initiatives through whatever means I have at hand. With the notice board, I think the suggestion was making the board more noticeable and interactive. I best also take this space to state that the bullet points in the article are just suggestions that were given, there inclusion does not necessarily mean I support them, but to give an idea of what was said.

  2. Matthew Galtress says:

    Sounds like it was an interesting meeting. With regard to the comment you made on Beeston having a Town/parish Council, my question would be where this would leave an area such as Bramcote, where I live, which is currently part of the Beeston Special Expense Area?

  3. Geoff Claypole says:

    Sounds like there are a lot of things the Beeston Civic Society is doing that covers some of the points brought up at the meeting. Planting of more trees for example – I did not know the Beeston Civic Society was already doing this.

    I have lived in Beeston since 1984, but not heard about the Beeston Civic Society. This is of course largely my fault, but maybe its profile could be raised, especially as there appears to be a rising interest in Beeston civic affairs now?

    I have looked on the Beeston Civic Society website. The link did not work, but I Googled it). It has pictures and information about the Beeston Square development. The artist impressions of the proposed finished development (as have already been shown previously) are still very depressing. So cheap looking and with no character at all. If Superdrug are also leaving, then we will soon have a boring depressing square and shopping centre, consisting of betting shops, charity shops and cash convertors. If I were passing through on the tram, I would not be tempted to get off in Beeston.

  4. Carol Guest says:

    Luckily the tram will go down Chilwell High Road and therefore would be a draw for people to pay Beeston a visit I think. There are some lovely independent shops along this stretch, which unfortunately have suffered somewhat with the works, which I currently frequent and have done so more so since I have been unable to drive along it. I was unaware of the meeting, but sounded like lots of interesting ideas have come out of it and ones which I will look out for with interest. I will have to visit the Civic Society website when it’s up and running again to see what is happening. I think maybe more people would join if it was a voluntary membership with a minimum price as a suggestion.

    • JS307 says:

      We have over 200 members and our membership fee is just £7 and £10 per couple. We need to have a charge to pay for hire of rooms, any speakers expenses and to fund our quarterly magazine. £7 we feel is a small cost to people for 8 meetings per year, a quarterly magazine, Heritage weekend in September also free Walks and Talks. To just be a visitor to one of our meetings costs £2 although we waived that cost last Friday. Our next meeting on Friday 14th February at John Clifford is a talk by John Hess, Political Correspondent for BBC East Midlands Today, followed by a talk in March by NET on the tram.
      Our website is currently updated daily the address is
      http://www.beestoncivicsociety.org.uk

  5. stevebarber says:

    Superdrug (as posted on the Bramcote Today Website):
    It must be remembered that this is a privately owned site let to a private company under a lease agreement. Any decisions made by Superdrug or their landlords over the tenancy are entirely their concern but the site can only be used according to permissions granted. An application came to us around 2 years ago for permission to turn this into a restaurant. Before reaching a decision we considered a number of questions; should we insist on the normal quota (65%) for strict A1 (general merchandise) retail use throughout the town or in view of changing demography can we relax this? Then there were the other issues such as noise, traffic etc. On balance the view was taken that we can relax the quota in this case and allow permission; better to have a thriving restaurant than a dead derelict retail unit. It was then up to the owner to decide how they wanted to proceed and Superdrug stayed for the time. Then about a year ago they asked for permission to open a pub. Frankly we could see no reason why not and granted permission. I understand from the Beestonian that Superdrug have now announced their closure, if this is the case then the owner can re-let as A1 use, a restaurant or a pub. We cannot dictate who they let the building to.

    Planning applications are advertised and available on-line. We welcome public comment and Councillors are able to “call them in” to the Development Control Committee if they so wish

  6. […] on this link to read Matt Goold’s summary of ideas put forward at the meeting on Saturday […]

  7. Unfortunately I could not attend the meeting. But based on the notes from it, I would be all in favour of a Cultural Quarter. It could be combined with the idea of a large ‘continental’ type square. Have independent cafes, music venues and galleries, off it. A square could also double up as a Sunday Market. Beeston is currently dead on a Sunday, apart from the supermarkets, so a market would be a nice alternative.

  8. Sarah Goodman says:

    Frankly I am disappointed to hear that Superdrug is closing as it is the only store in Beeston to resemble what Wilkinsons used to sell. I know that there is a mass call to bring Wilkinsons back here! Was there any mention of that or any new stores coming to Beeston?
    B & M bargins should close as it only sells tat and cheap hardware/household items that dont even last a week. I was going to attend the meeting but was unsure as why we were going to be charged on entry for a town meeting?

    • beestonia says:

      Hi Sarah, I’m going to write about Wilkos in my next post which deals with a few side issues that were thrown up. As for a charge to attend, there wasn’t one. We asked people to drop a few coins in a bucket towards room hire, but there was no obligation to do so. Any excess money was donated to a local charity by Nick Palmer. The meeting the night before, ran by the Civic Society, did have a small charge on the door for non-members, but that is usual to encourage membership and raise funds to cover the evening.

    • I think it highly unlikely that Wilkos will return. They are getting a significant sum and a condition due to an unfortunate quirk in the law is that they can’t return for a number of years. I also understand that they have a policy of investing within the M25.

      I have spoken to Mr Boyes of Boyes Stores which is similar to Wilkos and they have looked at Beeston. Unfortunately they couldn’t reach agreement on terms with the land owners they spoke to. The Co-op have a 63 year lease on the B&M site. They have sub let it to B&M, the council have little control over this agreement until 2077! I suspect that I may no longer be a councillor by then.

    • Geoff says:

      Bit harsh on B&M Bargains. It fills a need for some people.

  9. Jenny says:

    Hi, Matt, I couldn’t get to the meeting but am really pleased to hear what a success it was. Thinking further about the idea of Beeston as a cultural quarter, I think that is a great way to celebrate Beeston’s identity. I know that one resident (my next door neighbour, as it happens!) used to run poetry readings at The Flying Goose and described Chilwell Road as “Beeston’s Left Bank” which I thought was lovely. By the same token, could Beeston market itself as ‘Nottingham’s Left Bank’? Just a thought but, as you say, it is amazing how many potters, artists, jewellery-makers, poets, publishers etc are quietly tucked away in Beeston’s streets.

  10. Babs Carr says:

    I want to congratulate Matt in his positive summary of the event. There were negative items discussed but you have given readers a really accurate recount of the good ideas shared on the night. Trees are vital as are sensible use of open spaces. I think we should make more of our scientific side as well as culture
    and try to engage both the university and Boots in promoting us to their contacts. Also agree we need a strong unified voice but a steering group is not the answer. Prefer an elected town council.

  11. Stanley says:

    Very keen on the cultural quarter idea. And trees too – any chance we could have a rolling programme of planting trees on Beeston’s streets? I’d start with Chilwell Road when the tram’s finished.

    I didn’t hear anything about a cinema/theatre. .Beeston can support a cinema and it would be even better if it could be used as a local theatre as part of the cultural quarter.

    Agreed that the town centre has to develop towards leisure to replace shops that have migrated online, with services in the evening and Sundays when town’s currently pretty dead. Interesting to hear Steve mention the council has relaxed the 65% A1 quota which seems very sensible to me. To go with this I would like to see more apartment developments in the centre. With more residents more services would be viable within walking distance, and with the tram there would be less need for these new residents to have cars.

  12. beestoncs says:

    Those who are interested in the Beeston Civic Society – and to save Googling it – the website address is http://www.beestoncivicsociety.org.uk

  13. Rob Sinclair says:

    Cheers Matt I did have a read earlier and found it very interesting.

    Beeston has lots of potential still, but it’s putting all the pieces together to make it work.

    As a town we have a big populous in Beeston itself, Bramcote, Chilwell, Lenton Abbey & Beeston Rylands and also between October & July the University so there are plenty of people to draw into the town to use it given that it has the right kinds of retail or services to offer them.

    Firstly the square needs sorting out and the units being let out.

    Big retailers need an incentive to come to the town (as mentioned)

    Independents need the necessary help and backing to get them up and running (from reduced rates to free advertising etc)

    Get the market in the square or along the high road, it’s always good to see the square busy when the arts/crafts markets are held there.

    Get rid of the lunacy of parking charges in the council car parks !

    The idea of a cinema is a great idea the problem who would fund it run it is I guess it’s biggest stumbling block but I’m sure it would be a success in the right hands showing the right films maybe in corporate it with a small bowling Alley.

    Move the library so it’s more central instead of being tucked out of the way in its current location which is now to big for the modern library and turn the present building into student flats.

    Just a few ideas that I’m guessing have probably been covered.

    • Steve Barber says:

      Sadly the economic necessities mean we have to charge for parking. Car parks used to cost 6.6% of Broxtowe’s Council tax , they still cost us but less. Of course we are open to proposals that someone else such as Specsavers, Peacocks, B&M etc. who would benefit enormously from free parking may like to contribute. But so far there has been deafening silence when that was suggested.

  14. Chris Smedley says:

    Lots of good ideas knocking about. Unfortunately the Council has no money, which nixes an awful lot of them. Would be cool if that doesn’t put us off doing those things we can do with what we have.

  15. Marion Wallwork says:

    I would suggest that following the very interesting meeting last Saturday a steering group should be set up to follow developments and to make suggestions along the way. Ideally it should be set up by the Civic Society (nb How have people managed NOT to know about it?) I suggest it consists of 1 County and 2 District Councillors, 2 Civic Society representatives, 2 from BID, 2 from arts groups, 1 from NET, and 2 from bus companies. Such a group could meet monthly, would be open to ideas from members of the public, and would publicise its meetings in the Beeston Express.

  16. Joan says:

    I think it is important that as far as possible Beestonians do things for themselves. We cannot rely on big corporations acting kindly towards us and clearly the council has limited resources. Independently owned shop fronts can be smartened up with a few cans of paint, some willing volunteers and the consent of the owner. We can choose to shop locally and help ensure that what is earned in Beeston stays to support Beeston. I think it would be good if the town put on a street festival in the early Autumn to welcome new students to the university as our friends and our customers. We need to look at how we promote the town in the media – perhaps say a programme on the new Notts TV channel (due to start on Channel 8 later this year) highlighting what Beeston has to offer in terms of culture, history and independent shops. A grand fountain might be paid for by public subscription. An area could be set aside in the Square / High Street to showcase local artists and musicians.

  17. JS307 says:

    The Civic Society are willing to set up an open meeting for everyone who is interested in coming along, it will not be formal, there will not be a committee but another chance for people who want to do something to put forward ideas for the future after the tram and new Square. I have spent this week looking into venues. I think the idea above posted by Joan is a good one, having a street festival when the new students are here. We need more young people to be involved, a lot of those students will stay in the area and it will be their town, they should be involved, also the Youth Council.
    Steve Barber has already said he is happy to be part of it, thank you, but we will need other people as Marion Wallwork has suggested who can offer constructive support. Incidentally Marion is one of the founder members of the Beeston Civic Society 40 years ago. I have spoken recently to our committee about the Civic Society having a ‘pop up’ shop in Beeston to publicise what we do but apparently it is not that easy but we can look into that again more thoroughly.
    I think what is needed now is for people to come forward with ideas for venue, my own choice is either the Town Hall or again use John Clifford,
    and timings. The square is due to be demolished from 27th January so February or March would be ideal as there will be more to talk about.
    Please send your ideas and thoughts to beestoncivicsociety@gmail.com or go to our website and post there under ‘January Meeting’.
    Our March meeting on Friday 14th at John Clifford will be a talk given by NET, another forum for people to come along and hear what is said and ask questions.
    On the subject of trees, We have planted a lot of trees and we currently have 60 trees waiting to be planted in February to celebrate our 40th Anniversary last October, we asked for 40 and got 60!, we are not complaining. Trees removed along the tram route will be replaced by NET, we can look in 2015/16 to see where more are needed.

    Finally, there is a CAT meeting on March 11th, Tuesday, in the Town Hall for Beeston West residents, although no one would be denied entry, where James Greenway from Henry Boot PLC is booked to give a talk on the Square. This is a good forum to hear what is happening and voice your views. There are several different Beeston and Chilwell CAT Community Action Team) groups, they are very worthwhile meetings but not usually well attended unless something contentious is going to be discussed, eg The Square, Tescos, Residents Parking. People can send in questions too if unable to attend.
    We look forward to hearing from you.
    Judy Sleath, Chair, Beeston Civic Society.

    • Richard Eddleston says:

      I was not able to be at the meeting unfortunately. Like others, I think many of the ideas are great ideas, especially the cultural quarter (I am part of the local Spotted Dog Art Group) and greater communication about what is going on.

      My main concern is that most of the suggestions were about shops, transport etc i.e. the physical environment. I would hope that such a group would have a more holistic vision for the future of Beeston. I would hope that over and above the physical aspects, that there would be a concentration on social, psychological and spiritual aspects of life. Lets involve the voluntary sector, the volunteer bureau, churches together, community groups.

      There could also be an emphasis on alternative economic approaches. How about a co-operative in Beeston, one that could deliver on community energy.

      I would also hope that there would be an emphasis on reaching out to some of those more disadvantaged in our society.

  18. Chris says:

    Just a few points as a follow up to what I said on the night.
    Beeston needs to feel different (I think it already does) with visitors coming for social and interactive reasons.
    Offer free space to organisations from across the city or country to provide presentations, exhibitions, markets, fates, fairs all year round weekday and weekends that attract people to come. New business follows people.
    Beeston Tuk Tuks that locally connects everything with a set fare (maybe the taxi companies could invest in this)?
    In light of pub trade dying what’s replacing it, let’s have evening coffee shops.
    Outside warm winter seating, the Med still does it out of season!
    What about a Beeston beach in the summer?
    What happened to paddling pools?
    Let’s do more with the Marina, what a great space.
    Rough guide style walking and cycling tours
    Totally support a Beeston cinema (multi purpose broadway style offering)

    The reality is that too many local people who seek leisure activities currently leave Beeston for other locations and there is less and less each year to tempt in non Bestonians.

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