Before we delve deeper, a couple of things:
**** THE BEESTONIAN FILM CLUB RETURNS WITH A VERY SPECIAL EVENING!****
Yep, we have a bit of a treat for you this Monday. We have an exclusive showing of the Oscar nominated and utterly fascinating documentary, The Act of Killing.
Last year, the Cafe Roya Film Club was lucky enough to have Shane Meadows, Vicky McClure present, with the night Q+A’d by author and film/tv critic for The Guardian, Q, The Beestonian, Total Film, Film Four etc Ali Catterall.
After the event, I asked Ali about his best films of 2013, and before I had a chance to give categories he snapped ‘Act Of Killing’. Then expounded it’s values, until I had to halt him and say ‘present it at film club’.
And so he shall, as will representatives of Amnesty International. Tickets have been selling fast and we have very limited space. They’re £8 a head and include a meal prepared for by Roya that we will serve between a selection of shorts and the main feature. We hope to make a donation to Amnesty from the ticket sales, helping their very active and very effective local branch here in Beeston.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org asap to reserve.
If you’ve read this issue of The Beeston Express, you’ll be up to speed on Continuum Beeston and what we have planned. If not, go out and buy a copy, and be chuffed that we have an independent fortnightly publication in town (and a free monthly one! Now available at several more stockists: check the Facebook page for details).
I have had a fair few emails, and due to working off a memory-struggling tablet, might have overlooked a couple of emails and not sent you documents of Broxtowe’s planned relaunch. If so, contact me, I promise I’ll forward them on. You might also be interested in another document I am ok to share, that of the recent meeting at Beeston Town Hall called by Beeston BID to discuss local events and how to promote them. This is going to be a regular meeting every few weeks to ensure promoters, press, BID, and the council are all working together to ensure the stuff happening in Beeston gets communicated to as wide an audience as possible; and to pool ideas and resources for new initiatives. This is very much in line with what I have long desired for Beeston: LOADS of stuff happens here, yet they are all too often happening in discrete groups. This is not down to a desire to form cliques: quite the opposite. The problem is getting info out. Running The Beestonian, Cafe Roya Film Club and being the Promotion Coordinator for Oxjam this is all too apparent. Oxjam seems to be part of the town’s cultural fabric now, as is the magazine and film club, yet it’s a rare day I get through without someone expressing ignorance to these things: usually this admission is prefaced with the valid excuse that they simply did not know about it. I do my bit, and try and get info out on events and suchlike as much as I can, but please send in any ideas on how to do this more effectively. And if you would like a copy of the minutes to the BID meeting, email me at email@example.com and I’ll forward them over.
Soubry has also sent out a local questionnaire asking for ideas to help Beeston: as a matter of course I will send my document over to her. If it makes it further than her recycle bin is another matter.
News in that Young Potential, the charity that ran the ViTal charity shop on Beeston Hight Street: see Beestonia passim, has had to wind up it’s work due to financial constraints. This is a Beeston-based charity that worked hard to get vulnerable and excluded young people into work, with a staggeringly impressive rate of success. It’s chief funding engine was the ViTal shop, which had a huge coup last year by being gifted a huge amount of stuff from the 2012 London Olympics: everything from branded erasers to the flamboyant outfits used in the opening and closing ceremonies. Unfortunately, Ladbrokes turfed them out on gaining the lease in July last year. They were forced to vacate early, at the statutory minimum time by the bookmakers. As ViTal had, to minimise costs, taken out long-term commitments regarding the energy, security and other business necessities, they were committed to paying these overheads without a responsive income source. Young Potential have thus had to fold, effectively subsidising Ladbrokes before they did.
If you don’t know the Ladbrokes story, it’s in Issue 23 of the Beestonian and I will make sure it is disseminated over Beeston widely soon. I must stress this is not my story, more my collaborator on Beestonian projects, the Fantastic Mr Christian Fox. Christian has been following this story for the last 9 months, and I’ve asked him to draft an open letter to Ladbrokes requesting a cash gift to Young Potential to shore them up.
Why? Well, Ladbrokes bought the lease for ViTal last year and rather insistently kicked them out. They then took control of the premises…and did nothing. No shop fitting, no livery…nothing. This was odd behaviour: surely buying a lease, which we have good evidence from the agents as being a long term (10-15 years) one, surely they’d be keen to set up shop?
A bit of work later and we had good evidence to believe Ladbrokes had the lease…yet were intending to leave the shop empty.
Bizarre. Illogical. Madness.
They hustled crazily to kick ViTal out…only to commit to at least a decade of nothingness.
Which is what you, a good minded human being would think. Well done. It seems bizarre to you: you are a human. Possibly not even a civic minded human, just a human. What you’re not, what I doubt very few people outside that weirdly, clinically, psychopathic cohort known as ‘sterilizing capitalists’. They care not for the greater good, just the bottom line. ‘Ah’ you cry ‘As is, as always!’…yet I vouch this is more insidious.
These are the possible reasons that Ladbrokes intend to leave the shop empty. Shout out if you can work out more. Extra points for those which have any greater degree of rationality, humanity, or sense.
- Drowning out competition. The premises are ideally situated: opposite a pub and a cashpoint. As the premises was also once a Lunn Poly holiday shop, it has a inbuilt safe. This is ideal for a heavy cash business such as a bookies. Ladbrokes already has a premises in the town, opposite Wetherspoons, so might not need extra capacity. But spending a minimal amount on rent, rates and utilities and preventing a competitor in an ever burgeoning market from moving in is business sense. Shits on the town in question, but good business sense.
- FOBT legislation. FOBT stands for Fixed Odd Betting Terminal. These are machines that have drawn a great deal of opprobrium due to the way they operate: these machines are commonly known as ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’. They allow the punter to chuck large stakes -£100 every thirty seconds – at quick-fix terminals. While it can be argued they could do just this in a casino, it can also be argued that a casino has a duty of care towards users, and to enter a casino, usually not placed in impoverished areas near impulse ticklers, is harder to do and less discreet than banging a wage packet down the machine opposite the pub. Whatever your stance on freedom of personal choice is, the simple social and fiscal fact is that these machines lead to the type of gambling problems that wound the community they are based in. The social problems that ensue from debt and gambling addiction way outweigh any local benefit in jobs or business rates. Sensibly, this has been recognised by government and clamped down on, limiting the amount of FOBTs to 4 per premise. This means that the more premises they have, the more FOBTs. As FOBTs raise the vast majority of any betting shop’s takings, well over the standard horse/dog/ flutter on a football score take, they are hugely reluctant to see these legislated against. So open another store! When it’s efficient to do so, open and double your spread.
- License Legislation. Simply, legislation controlling bookmakers is going to be an issue over the next few months. We are 15 months from the General Election, and positions are being formed. Bookmakers are going to be an easy target for parties to promise legislation on. The Tories have fuffed, frothed and fugged without any meaningful point, while Labour have at least given some indication that locally-toxic businesses such as chain bookmakers will have to pass a greater degree of public opprobrium and valid opposition than right now. When I tried to oppose Ladbroke’s takeover of ViTal, I was told there were only two grounds: i)it would impact upon my quality of life as a resident ii) it would impact on my business, being a local trader. Nothing about the fact that the business can be proven to be malignant to the town itself. If Labour do gain power, and duly legislate (my breath is also not held here), then a license to trade will be impossible to get. Yet is as unlikely that said license can be revoked retrospectively. Thus: buy up premises now, get the licenses, pay next to nowt until you need them, open when business peaks and have an edge on post-legislative competition.
- All of the above. You massive cynic.
You’ll also degrade the community beforehand: an informal conversation I had with a major Beeston landlord recently had him terrified that, although he might take a few quid off Ladbrokes anyhow, landbanking for any of the above reasons is bad. A business looking for premises is way less likely to open next to a business that is derelict, even if it’s funded. Said property agent has a struggle thusfore as it they have to sell isolated space.
In precis: Ladbrokes are bastards.
We’re working on a way to try and impress upon Ladbrokes to free up the lease, and/or make a substansial donation to Young Potential to allow them to continue the good work they are proven to do. An open letter will be imminent.