Beeston to Bloom? / FU BT / Amnesty Salute / Taking Free Speech to UKIP.

 

Issue 25 of The Beestonian is nearly ready to release, and it’s got a seasonal theme: spring is here, and it’s not just the trees that are budding. There are some very good signs in Beeston of a recovery from the psychological knock the tram/square works have caused. I won’t repeat what I’ve covered in the articles in the mag, go and read it and tell our suppliers how ace they are. But a few bits of encouraging news seem to be filtering through.

I’ve spent a silly amount of time of late looking at retail trends in towns, comparing our town with similar, and seeing how we fare. My verdict: we could be doing very well. Take a recent event. Superdrug closed down and many heralded this as another nail in the coffin, how Beeston is past it’s best, blah boring blah. Yet in the same week, at least three businesses opened. One was The Star in, a pub long mistreated and neglected, a shambolic wreck seemingly ready for the bulldozers and yuppie flat developers to march in. Another was Attik, on Chilwell Road, a fantastically odd shop full of the strange and wonderful memorabilia, collectables, decorative items and so on. Another is Table 8, a new restaurant set up by a pair of brothers in the premises of what was once the Library. I dropped into the launch last night and it looks like it’l be a hit if the tasters they put out were anything to go by.

These businesses all have one thing in common: they are independents ran by people who are part of the community. Not controlled by some soulless head office that sees their Beeston store as nothing more than a monthly takings figure.

Sainsburys posted their first drop in profits for nine years recently, and other large retailers look to show similar figures. It looks very  much like the years of swallowing up towns is over, saturation reached. There is also evidence to show people are turning more towards smaller shops to do non-essential shopping. Get your basic groceries online or in one swoop at Tesco, but get everything else from smaller, friendlier, local shops. That desire for the personal touch has broke through. Beeston therefore seems to be well ahead of the curve.

This is encouraging, but needs to be treated with caution. The 2008 crash that fundamentally changed so much not just globally but locally showed how much can change quickly. Another such crash, predicted by a worryingly large amount of financial analysts, could throw everything up in the air again. It’s also never wise to underestimate the powers of the major retailers. Though the marketing genius that once saw them sweep over the land seems to be in short supply of late.

I predict that in five years, if things are managed properly, Beeston will not just be surviving, but thriving. Our pubs are stronger than ever. Independent businesses on the rise. The tram – love it or hate it-will make the getting here from Nottingham an easier decision to make. We just have to ensure there is something for them to want to come here for. The signs that I’m seeing right now are encouraging indeed.

I’ll be going to the next Beeston Continuum meeting tomorrow, and will report back afterwards. Let me know if there are any points you want raised.

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Now, if that above bit sounded like I’m going all Pollyanna on you, I’m sorry. There are still huge problems right now, especially on Chilwell Road. The poor folk at Mr Falafel (my favourite take away in Beeston: the stuffed vine leaves are so good I practically lived on them through the heat of last summer) have had the whole entrance to their shop ripped away, making them accessible only to those with jetpacks. Other shops are struggling, and while money is being promised from various sources, this is not being distributed with any urgency.

While NET have made pretty good progress of late, one problem has been the utilities. As these are not working under any threat of penalty clauses, they seem to have deprioritised essential work to allow the track laying to proceed at speed. Particularly bad are BT, who have refused to work on a large inspection chamber that is getting in the way of completing an area of Chilwell Road. This is ridiculous. Not only do BT offend my eyes with those godawful ads for their crap TV channel where two ex footballers give some top bants to the camera, but now they’re screwing the town. Bah to them.

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We had a fantastic night at film club last week. Fantastic might actually be the wrong word, as the film, The Act of Killing, was a pretty horrendous watch, and the first time I’ve had people openly weeping in the screen room. Beeston Amnesty gave a brief talk beforehand, and we raised £50 for them to help towards the fantastic work they’re doing. Guardian critic Ali Catterall travelled up from London to present it, and give some context to a deeply disturbing, bizarre and unforgiving film. Huge thanks to all who attended, donated and got through the film. If you’ve not seen it, I’d really advise you do.

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UKIP came to town  last week and held a meeting in a local pub. I’m not a fan of UKIP, and wasn’t to happy with this. Then again, everyone has the right to free speech, and the ability to assemble. It just seems that Beeston, a very diverse, multicultural town is a place Farage’s numbnut army should take a look at and see their xenophobic bufoonery is proven to be the racist guff it is by how things work here. In the course of the two days leading up to their meeting, I’d met people from Lituanian, Latvia, Taiwan, France, Canada, the US, Spain, Portugal, China, South Africa, India, Sweden, Russia, Argentina, Bulgaria and possibly many other places. All part of the tapestry of Beeston life, a rich blend that keeps the place alive and vibrant. UKIP hate that.

So we thought we’d use our own freedom of speech and let UKIP know what we thought of them. They were busy handing out their leaflets and papers, so we printed a special edition of the Beestonian (below) , a reprint of an article written by our own Bulgarian superhero, Nora, which tells how the bigotted guff they stick out is not harmless patriotism, but has a real impact on people. I do hope they -as champions of free speech-appreciated this gesture of expression. Weirdly, they looked like we’d shat in their slippers. Strange people, them UKIPpers.

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10 thoughts on “Beeston to Bloom? / FU BT / Amnesty Salute / Taking Free Speech to UKIP.

  1. Dane says:

    Nice article again.
    I do think Beeston could become a destination for real ales alone when the place is sorted. We really do have some great pubs now. If the pubs are successful then the footfall alone will bring prosperity to Beeston.

    • beestonia says:

      There is a fairly reliable test of a towns vitality by monitoring is pubs. Beeston is moot, as we’ve always had an odd share of pubs per resident. Yet while that is encouraging, a qualitative rather than quantitative analysis is required. From a purely anecdotal study the now majority of real ale centred pubs in our towns licence is mind blowing. Such prevalence is a see sort of reverse canary in the mine. I’ve also been tipped off on the back of this article that patches of land offered for development are subject to aggressive bidding wars. Contrast this with the previous situation just twelve months ago where developers were being thrown so many incentives, tax breaksand other legal bribes the local municipal gain was negliable. While I remain cautious, it’s hard to not see a change in the way our town is seen.

  2. stevebarber says:

    It will be interesting to see what moves into Superdrug. We granted permissions for it to be a restaurant or a pub or it could remain as retail. Not many towns actually have applications for pubs, the norm is for them to be shutting down and turned to other uses.

  3. Chris says:

    I stood outside Mr Falafel the other say and after standing open mouthed for a long time finally managed nothing more than “what the *#%^$”. How is this in any way acceptable?

    On shopping I truly hope your thoughts around local shop support is realised. Whilst Tesco and Sainsburys both lick their wounds I suspect that LIDL is the main winner. Big brand online continues to grow alongside branded convenience stores. I fear a new price war will encourage shoppers back into historical shopping patterns, pushing prices to levels local shops can only dream of. I was veermontly opposed to the Tesco development but have at least successfully kept to my promise to never step foot in the store.

    As someone who has dealt with BT in industry over many years what you describe is normal practice for them. They remain the same business grounded in their pre-privatisation roots with an attitude to customer service that would impress Michael O’ Leary.

    I share your views on UKIP. Beeston is an inclusive multinational community and all the better for it. There are endless examples of where different nationalities have brought real value to our community and success to UK industry.

    On superdrug my hope us for a shop/bar selling the best of British stouts and porters, I live in hope.

  4. stevebarber says:

    Another test for a town is to ask the question; is the Wetherspoons the best pub you can find? I can think of many places including a Leicestershire town we have just visited where this is the case. Is it true for Beeston?

    I believe that Mr Falafel has agreed to the inconvenience outside his shop. In other words he will have received recompense. Hopefully a tidy sum payable by BT.

  5. stevebarber says:

    Another thought occurred to me. I wonder how many different draught Real Ales are on sale in Beeston at any one time. It would be an interesting exercise for someone such as Lord Beestonia to pick a random Friday or Saturday and collate what is available. Every pub would have to be visited ; it would need a team of volunteers all feeding back information. Any thoughts?

    It would make a great story and promote Beeston.

    I wonder if we could exceed 50.

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