Wow. Despite seeing more than adequate evidence over the past few years to show me we live in a community that cares about its town, I still am rapturously shocked when I see it in action. My last article on this subject had a staggering amount of views and shares, and the call to action put out by this blog and Beeston Civic Society has been answered with in excess of 1,000 replies to the consultation. That is incredible, and even the council admits they were surprised; whether they respond to such a deep level of concern is, of course, a political decision, which I’ll deal with in a second.

But first, what now? You’ve sent in the consultation form, you’ve got the information you need, you’ve told your friends and family…but is that it?

Well no. Now the real fight begins. The consultation had the look of a rushed exercise in statutory lip-service. If democracy is contingent on our leaders listening to those they represent, the rulers of Broxtowe Borough Council are extremely hard-of-hearing. As such, we need to whip out our metaphoric (and perhaps literal!) megaphones and shout louder. Thus, please ensure the following two things are done:

  1. SIGN THE PETITION: this closes at midnight tomorrow.
  2. WRITE TO THE PLANNING COMMITTEE: ensure you copy in all councillors: for the addresses, scroll to the end of the page and cut and paste. Tell them your wishes, be polite, ask for a reply.
  3. ATTEND THE MEETING ON WEDNESDAY, TOWN HALL, 7PM: I cannot stress this enough. Often councillors are cossetted away from all but their most immediate constituents, and it already clear many of the key politicians don’t care about Beeston. We need to have a show of strength at the meeting – a full council meeting where the petition will be presented, and a brief speech made by Beeston and District Civic Society Chair, Judy Sleath. The event is free, and an ideal chance to actually see the Town Hall serving the purpose it was put in place for (although I can’t guarantee the same from the councillors!). Arrive at 6.45pm, and go straight in – you’ll be directed to the chamber.
  4. COME TO THE PUB AFTERWARDS: actually, this isn’t that important, but we’re having a drink afterwards, and give us an opportunity to all meet, chat, and plan the next move.

We have a real struggle ahead. Politically –and this decision is purely political – the Tories running the council don’t have a lot of love for Beeston and its people. They consistently fail to get their party elected in all but the far margins of the area (Toton, and Attenborough). Beeston simply isn’t a concern for them: they are no votes here. They feel they have impunity to do anything: we have to show them that they most definitely don’t.

There are also rumours –some from incredibly reliable sources – that the council have a deal on the table and are just running through the formalities of a sham consultation before ink is signed into contracts. I worked on the campaign to keep Eastwood’s DH Lawrence Centre open: despite putting forward arguments that the building could become not just cost-neutral, but a revenue-raiser were ignored: the sham consultation day I attended there was almost hilariously pointless: as we discussed ways to keep it open, the council were putting a ‘TO LET’ board in place. It’s now a nail bar, and missing out on a large chunk of tourism funding currently being distributed around Notts.

Next week, I will be revealing here the utter shambles the council has become due to political mismanagement. The current party seem to be in power but not in control, with meetings and committees stuffed with councillors who make no contribution whatsoever, having little clue as to what is going on. Oversight and scrutiny has been eroded with glee. Council officers – the poor staff who have an obligation to do what the politicians tell them – are reporting a huge crisis of morale, such as the poor decision making they have to act upon. Officers are obliged to remain neutral and not express public opinion: yet many have come to me (with all due protection of sources in place) with incredible tales of incompetence, idiocy and what looks like a systematic attempt to run the council down while they can. It takes a lot for an officer to resort to this, anonymously or otherwise. But they are at the end of their tethers.

On top of that, the wide-ranging fall-out from a high-level sex-scandal (yes, really) has raged through Foster Avenue, and proved enormously costly to date, with bizarre levels of secrecy doing everything to prevent transparency. This is why intent on getting a quick buck for council assets such as the Town Hall: mismanagement of a once decent council.  I will bringing the full-story out next week, stay tuned.

In the meantime, the Town Hall is the focus: I’ll see you on Wednesday.