What was it all for?

Rebecca Long-Bailey, having had a lot of support to be Leader of the Labour Party, is no longer a member of the front bench;
and I wonder what principle, or value, RLB thinks she has lost her position for, given even the actor whose interview she celebrated has since retracted a part of the interview that may have added fodder to racism and anti-Semitism?

Keir Starmer chose to make tackling anti-Semitism in the Labour Party his top priority. Rebecca Long-Bailey celebrates an interview given by Maxine Peake, part of which endorses an allegation against Israeli security services, and only the Israeli security services, which means their work was responsible for the murder of George Floyd. A conspiracy theory, a smear.
RLB then recognises the claim is not true, but decides she cannot make the political gesture of withdrawing her political support for the article as a whole. So she is stood down. Supporters pile in to support RLB, claiming the right to be critical of Israel and claiming RLB’s dismissal is out of proportion.

Then Maxine Peake disowns the allegation, saying racism and anti-semitism is abhorrent.

And why is it anti-Semitic?
Cos some people do want more than it’s another conspiracy theory involving Israel.
Best explanation I’ve seen is by Sara Gibbs who says understanding why is hard to unpick and needs knowledge of context.
Summarised as “given that the accusation is demonstrably false, given that there is a widespread far-right conspiracy theory that Jews are trying to start a race war & given that there have been multiple incidents of Jews as a collective being blamed for anti-Black racism … the surrounding context makes a conspiracy theory which is … much more likely to be rooted in antisemitic sentiment.”

Broadmarsh is not a blank piece of paper

“Mr Rogan, a Nottingham-based architect who specialises in historic and conservation work, said “smaller, greener developments” should be replacing larger shopping centres.
“Describing the Broadmarsh building as “a dead whale” and the plans for Collin Street’s pedestrianised area as “a bit of a bodge”, he pointed to changing retail patterns in calling for a mixed development of smaller shopping units and housing to revive the area south of the city centre.
“I think [the council] are trying to make the best of a difficult situation, but they need to completely re-evaluate things in view of what’s happening,” he said.
“[Broadmarsh] is going to be an open sore until it’s gone, and it will always be that.”

A relatively measured statement from a locally known architect.

Others have called for a park to replace the existing shopping centre and part of Maid Marian Way to be buried in an underpass (claiming all that to be green).
Others still for the return of Drury Hill.

To which –
– the new Broadmarsh does move away from retail, including a cinema multiplex and bowling alley, believed commercially viable because of the larger numbers of younger people living in the city;
– Drury Hill could never be brought back, because we’ve since built up Middle Hill; the new Broadmarsh was set to extend Drury Lane and open up an existing green space which includes a remaining part of the cliff edge;
– the natural cliff itself has long since been dug out; it would not be a very handsome backdrop to a big new park; city centre land is still in demand, and even if we await the outcome of the public health emergency on retail, there is still a huge demand for housing to serve younger people and students;
– the original plans for shopping from 1997 did envisage the return of more of the original street pattern, but there was not that much on the eastern half of the shopping centre to begin with, and lots of the original streets were lost to Maid Marian Way;
– burying Maid Marian Way would not create an attractive feature; it would start with a severe cutting and end with a big hole; the gradients would make the journey too difficult for some of the traffic that uses that route, and might even have to be wider if the existing bus routes were to be defended; a huge cost, made worse by having to move utilities that probably traverse the road;
– removing the part of the car park that traverses Collin Street probably makes the car park unviable and a buy out would cost huge amounts of money;
– money for such projects is something the council doesn’t have.

Imagining a different future is not so difficult, if you ignore what’s there.

522 Student Rooms applied for on car park site off Traffic Street

View along Waterway Street West

Erection of two part 3, part 5 and part 6 storey buildings comprising of student accommodation along with associated access, ancillary communal facilities and flexible cafe /event space (use class A3
Car Park, South Side, Traffic Street, The Meadows, Nottingham.

“The Traffic Street Project is a proposed student residential development in Nottingham consisting of two buildings of up to 6 floors. The proposal is to create 62 shared cluster flats and 163 studios having a total of 522 rooms, to meet the needs of a growing student population, reduce the usage of the general housing stock for student housing in multiple occupation (HMOs), and further the City’s ambitions for the Southside regeneration.”

Not sure the developers want to stick with “The Traffic Street project”

Planning committee – June 2020

Our first telecoms Planning committee meeting and only one item – 319 flats proximate to Arkwright Walk. And you can watch it all on YouTube – oh yes! – only 90 minutes.

Permission is granted subject to all the actions on the extensive outstanding conditions (which is by no means untypical of planning conditions), we required –
– further discussion on the support for wider work as expressed through section 106 agreement;
– extended expectations with materials and design including external material, paving materials, quality brick finishes, stronger main entrances;
– an extra test of heating and cooling, given the significant solar gain expected in large windowed sun facing apartments.

Further expectations are sought within the planning conditions already set out –
– flats respecting mansard expectation of being set back more;
– being assured of maximum opportunity being taken for solar PV arrays on the roof; and re-charging for electric cars and e-bikes;
– courtyard being properly landscaped; and proper mgmt. of the courtyard and the open space across Sheriffs Way.

What happened to us liberals?

What happened to us liberals?  Celebrating a 14 day gaol sentence for the man who was caught short.

The guy convicted was drunk. He’d drunk 16 pints. (Have none of us had mates pull that stunt?) I am prepared to believe he didn’t know the memorial was there – he didn’t even know which statue he’d gone to keep open. He turned himself in (never mind what his Dad said or did.)

Why is 14 days in prison the right sentence?
Why isn’t cleaning up places through community service the correct approach?

So I’m pleased that Kevin Maguire has pointed this out.
Although he has hidden behind the remark “sickened”, even though I don’t think he knew memorial was there.

Now, the far right protestors do deserve heavy criticism and condemnation. I think they went intending to destroy statues – Gandhi’s and Mandela’s. Again I don’t know, but why try to break through Police fences and cordons to defend a Churchill status that was already boxed up?

Amazingly, the precedent for the jail sentence was 7 months for a woman who’d urinated on a war memorial – twice. Alright, that’s seems pretty premeditated, but 7 months?

And some Conservative MPs are calling for 10 years sentences for damaging statues – 10 years! I know, I know – it’s a distraction. Worry about the state, and not the freedoms and the new deal that servicemen came to fight for.

True – why not slam the “football fan” culture that has brought such ignominy to England’s reputation abroad. Indeed, I’ve chosen to publish Billy Bragg’s lyrics on the subject above. “The Few” – great lyrics, wrong key. He’d seen the nonsense of Nazi salutes in the defence of England. The lack of self-control that had led to the need for relief in very public places.

But for all that, and for all of that, the sentence is disproportionate and lacking in imagination.

Mid-month progress report – June 2020

Main concern remains the public health emergency. I recommend following government advice, but I no longer try to summarise it at the top of this web-site cos it is getting more sophisticated and nuanced (as might be expected), but also cos the Govt’s special advisor undermined the policy anyway.

The level of new cases is down in Nottingham and it turns out was relatively low anyway, for reasons unknown. Most challenging is the matter of how to expand the number of children attending school. Our local primary schools have given this a lot of consideration, and come up with slightly different approaches, which says to me that it’s best to let them work it out cos they know their situations concerning numbers attending already, availability of staff and design of their classrooms.

Main focus of discussions with the Police has been the compliance with social distancing etc., but there’s been a couple of tweets announcing an arrest for threats against staff at the Co-op and a request for help identifying a robber from an incident a few weeks back. The Police have tweeted that they’ve been patrolling The Embankment for nuisance, but I’ve been struck on my daily walks how I’ve seen quads and other nuisance vehicles on London Road and elsewhere.

The murder of George Floyd by police officers has given a new profile to racism in society. I attended the Black Lives Matter demonstration at The Forest. There’s been a subsequent concern about the nature of statues celebrating slave owners and others from the past. The Meadows can boast more outdoors free-standing works of art than the city centre, but I’ve yet to be notified of any concern about the content of any of them. Apparently, there is a check being conducted of street names. Whilst hate crime is only up slightly, concern is that it’s up at all given the “closure” of the city centre.

There has been encouragement to promote walking and cycling further as we come out of the emergency. For The Meadows, this means a temporary stop to through traffic along the Embankment – most probably through a barrier proximate to the paddling pool – and an opportunity to see what the impact would be. Trent Bridge, currently being re-painted, is also proposed to have its inside inbound lane to be concerned to a 2 way cycle lane, extending the extent of cycle priority that exists along the Embankment. I have asked about adding a bus and cycle lane from the outbound bus stop on Trent Bridge Island to half-way along the bridge, before allowing space for general traffic to adapt for both the entrance to the rowing clubs service road and the Radcliffe Road junctions.

The shopping centre chain, Intu, have been hit badly by the public health emergency and have suspended the construction of the new Broadmarsh, leading to the closure of a number of shops.

June’s Planning committee will consider the revised proposal for 310 flats between Crocus Street and Meadows Way, alongside Arkwright Street. Community reps have already met council staff over this proposal, which has not received objections during the latest consultation. A proposal for the company managing the flats to maintain the open space on Sheriff’s Way brings issues to manage.

Owners of Crocus Mill have announced an intent to convert two major buildings to accommodation – the market is slowly catching up with the emend created for accommodation for young people and students, in a society where people are living for longer and living in smaller units, with a heavy increase in private sector rents.

I have been disappointed to read of conspiracy nonsense regarding 5G telecom masts.

A revised statement for the ambition and development of open space in The Meadows and the wider ward is being updated.

All further to the May Progress report. Comments and feedback sought.


Calm down

Last week there was no mention of ‘a small minority’ when it was a very small minority. This week it’s ‘a small minority’ when in fact it was anything but.” – Gary Lineker.

As best as I can read it, some thousands of far right supporters set out to wreak some kind of equivalence to statues of Mandella and Gandhi as hard been visited upon that of Churchill a week before. However, all 3 statues had been boxed up before any demonstration had arrived; and Black Lives Matters and others had suspended or moved any demonstrations to the previous day.
Many of the far right demonstrators seemed to have got tanked up, and I can well imagine one of them was caught short, and may well have thought he was just relieving himself in a small crevice of a large fence, rather than next to a memorial of a Police Officer who had fallen fighting terrorism.

The determination to try to break through barricades and assault the police was striking. Groups descending on families and other groups having picnics was reprehensible. Giving Nazi salutes as part of a demo to celebrate Churchill and those that served in WWII was bemusing.

We should say the violence is wrong. But we should also look to calm the situation down.
Memorials should be protected, but they should not be worth fighting over.
Saw one graphic that hyped up the offence that the fallen of WWII would have taken at damage to memorials, but if we could ask them, I would want to believe that they would actually want us to reverse the betrayals of the post war deal – full employment etc.

We should not be quick to have our hackles raised. In another context, it’s how wars get started. We should look now for people to explain themselves, and hope that many would come to see how they’ve got it wrong. And yes, prosecutions are part of that process. But I’m pleased too to see that the Police have tried to avoid using their “full force”.

I suspect Boris Johnson and Pritti Patel had wanted to make moral equivalence allegations against BLM etc. and Britain First. Patel tried; Johnson didn’t.

Meadows ward monthly report 13

Another full month of a high degree of lockdown. Everything else continues to be reduced in significance by the public health emergency.  The UK has been the worst in Europe in managing the crisis.
Data published on 1st May has announced the death of 3 people in The Meadows by April 17th.

Mantra still is follow the revised government advice, which local people have been pretty good about.
But the advice changes again tomorrow, and some groups of people have been working to the forthcoming standards.

Following the guidance has been a tad compromised by the Prime Minister excusing the actions of some – they were following their paternal instincts. I might have pleaded for mercy, but in the end, we’d have been better off if the biggest culprit had been fined.
Disappointed for Nottinghamshire teachers, who came for unwarranted criticism – when really we just have to talk things through to work it out.

Still the Covid-19 disease has hit Nottingham less hard than might be expected given we are a compact and dense city, with higher rates of BAME and higher rates of people earning in the 7th, 8th and 9th deciles. The rate of positive tests is low by national standards, but it’s not obvious why.  

Cases picked up via the Golden Number (01159155555) are still coming through, but people have been coping, or not, without seeking much extra help.
Nottingham City Council is working in very different ways, including full council, which appointed a new Chief Executive (who starts in September).
The council is not receiving the money it should for the extra services being provided.  We are going to be betrayed by the Gov’t on the promises they made.

A conservation area has been agreed for the Old Meadows.

An assault in The Meadows, although understanding of how it come to happen is not yet known. The Police have been making progress on drugs; although our unformed officers did suffer a very unfortunate experience.

Can say –
– Police have been patrolling Victoria Embankment and talking to people to encourage social distancing;
– extra patrol issued 3 tickets for speeding on Saturday;
– noise from quads and motor bikes is annoying and is looked for, but it’s easier if info is supplied on where the machines are kept; since no-one in The Meadows has said anything, it is not clear that the offenders are local; and they have been witnessed elsewhere;
– the report of a stabbing was in fact bleeding from an assault and did not involve the use of a blade; the victim has declined to prosecute;
– 2 people arrested on 27th Feb on drugs charged were sentenced on May 7th to 3 years and to 32 months;
– Our Lady & St.Patrick’s church are exploring extra measures to protect their grounds against being used for abuse;
– it is understood that 20mph speed limits can be enforced;

– council have re-instated bulky waste collection, but weeding is beyond us at the moment; might be helpful if people could hoe nearby roadsides;
– some Old Meadows streets were sent letters on Saturday about looking after alleyways and taking advantage of bulky waste collections.

127 cases logged since 3rd May, 2019, from around 53 new clients, collected from phone calls, e-mails, Facebook posts etc.  An e-mail to Meadows residents was issued on behalf of co-Cllr. Nicola Heaton and myself.

Practically no rain in May, and this on top of the country’s driest ever recorded Spring, means new problems are on their way, a short 4 months after all the problems with floods and broken dams elsewhere.

There is one almighty reckoning to come when we do strive to recover our economy and society.

But a huge reckoning is now taking place in the USA, following the murder of George Floyd, by a Policeman who constrained him by sticking a knee on his throat for 8 minutes, despite the victim’s pleads of “I can’t breathe”. The Police fired the officer, who already had 17 complaints filed against him, but needed to arrest him and charge him with murder sooner than they did.

Culture and events – 
Films on TV: check out BBC’s I-player!
TV: Charlie Brooker’s anti-viral wipe – just hilarious.
Theatre on internet: Frankenstein.
Documentaries on internet: UK travel vlog of Nottingham by Renata Pereira; History of Broad Marsh by NottsFlix.
And the new pastime – following the fortunes of wildfowl families as they are hatched and grow up.

Plenty of anniversaries, given it’s the elections month of May – Victory 20 years ago and Ten Years since end of ME4SD campaign – and for other reasons – Victory in Europe Day – 75 years on, and Clement Attlee came to power 80 years ago.

And farewells: locally Ken Fleet; and elsewhere, Michael Angelis (Liver Birds, Boys from the Blackstuff, and G.B.H.).

We should work it out

Incredibly disappointed for Notts teachers and the Notts education unions, who will know the importance of children not missing school lessons more than most, for them to be told by the Conservative council leader “it was time teachers ‘pay back a little’, with other services continuing during lockdown.”
(source: Nottingham Post)

I have tweeted – 
“Why the determination to be rude to teachers?
“The criteria for re-opening schools should be about what’s best for public health; end of.
“Not some imagined debt.”

Well done to the trade unions on acquiring the scientific advice.
A bit disappointing that it does not seem to offer enough to encourage a small partial return schools on June 1st.  
(I had wondered if the argument was going to be that the number of cases in parts of the country was sufficiently low to enable a return; but apparently that case has not been made.)

Seems to me the trade unions have been proportionate and dignified.