Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Another blaze in one of our heritage buildings. Surprise or not? From my recent memory, the Recreation Hotel, Severalls Concert Hall, the Flying Fox pub, the Bell at Old Heath - to name but a few and now joined by the Officer's Mess. What have they all got in common? Are they all owned by people who would have rather liked them to be wiped from the face of the earth so that they could build bigger and more valuable buildings on the site? In the case of the latest example of a suspicious fire, is it a fair assumption that it was fully insured? All these questions. But the biggest question must be, 'Have the police ever caught the person responsible?'
Friday, 9 July 2010
I can't help but notice that the back stabbing is still going on at the Town Hall between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Anybody would think that we don't have a coalition of the two in Westminster despite it seemingly working very well. Much to the annoyance of the failed Labour destructionists, they are a happy team. But not in Colchester. Why is that?
Well. They all seem to be getting in on the heritage bandwagon at the moment. Yesterday's Gazette was lamenting the loss of the Hythe - only 50 years too late. We have let it all go to the wall, we knocked down the old buildings and built flats all over it, we stopped dredging the river, etc. and then we complain about what has happened. Last night in the Town Hall we had a bunch who want to be friends of the Roman Wall. So what about the rest of Roman Colchester? Another lot of fantasists want to bury Southway and restore our lost historic streets and various other pie in the sky ideas that have about as much chance of happening as finding some rocking-horse poo. That little exercise alone seems to have been at public expense. Then there is another bunch who want the Gosbecks Dog Walkers Park to be turned into an archaeology theme park of some sort. That could have been done 15 years ago when the money was there to do it. Since then the council have spent the money elsewhere and don't like to be reminded of it. It strikes me that we have tried to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. The damage has already been done. Oliver Cromwell started the ball rolling when he knocked big holes in our walls and chunks off our priory and churches. Colchester Borough Council seem to have carried on where Cromwell left off. It's too late. The damage is done. Why bother?
Saturday, 3 July 2010
I am pleased that an outside group (Save Britain's Heritage) has seen fit to comment on Colchester's heritage (Essex County Standard 2nd July 2010). Third party opinion, good or bad, should be a good thing and will hopefully stimulate discussion. The crackpot ideas of burying Southway and Balkerne Hill, bringing back trams, allowing historic streets to be reinstated (!!!!!), demolishing the beautiful telecom building, etc, are in cloud cuckoo territory. How many billions would that cost our bankrupt council I wonder? It seems to have ignored our World Heritage Site potential - which is probably a good thing on reflection. Just imagine what they would have made of that! We could rebuild the missing bits of our Roman walls or knock the castle down and re-instate the Temple of Claudius. Where on earth Damacus is, I have no idea. It repeats the word twice so it must be a well kept secret. Wherever it is we compare with it. Sorry but, as you probably guess, I am not impressed. Very amateurish. It could and should have been done so much better.
You kinda know that things are going well when bus drivers complain about the glare from the new cladding of our new arts building, known by me as the visual arts fiasco. Is that the best they can come up with? I hated the thing from the start and was not alone. I hated even more the process that we have been forced to endure during its construction. But now that it is taking shape, I have mellowed. I quite like what I am seeing. It really does look very impressive. The aerial view that I saw in the local rag really shows its potential. Now I cannot wait to get rid of the scruffy bus park and to see the landscaping under way and to join all the other curmudgeons on my first visit to the finished building. Although what they are going to put inside it is quite another matter!
Thursday, 1 July 2010
A bunch of local people known collectively as destination Colchester, working alone for the good of the town, have recently submitted a bid for Colchester to become one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. They have been given the full support of Colchester Borough Council, on the proviso that the council will not be asked to contribute any money towards this. In fact, the bid was completed and sent, with no costs whatsoever. Why is that? Could it be to do with the fact that it was done by volunteers; people who do this sort of thing for the love of their town; to try and make a difference where officialdom would rather do nothing in that direction? No 'consultants' were used. No fees were incurred. No parasites on the public purse. Whatever the reasons, the bid was submitted and now a waiting process has begun. It may be that Colchester doesn't stand a hope in hell of joining such a prestigious list of World locations. But why not have a go anyway? The sadness is that, no sooner has the bid been sent, the backbiting begins to try to discredit the application. A Conservative politician, (presumably jealous of other's achievements) makes a wholly unsubstantiated claim in the local newspaper that it would cost Colchester Borough Council a sum of £400,000 to become a World Heritage Site. It beggars belief! Why don't these people get behind the bid and support their town?
I see in the Gazette that the boys and girls at the Town Hall have trousered a gift made to the people of Colchester for the development of Gosbecks Archaeological Park. They are spending the money on mainteneance and appear to have got through £100,000 or so of the original £500,000 given in 1995. So, what has happened to the interest for a start? Who has taken this decision to misuse the money and why? Was it a Tory or a Liberal Democrat? Colchester has more of a story to tell than Stonehenge. Gosbecks may just apppear to some as a few lines on the ground, but that is what the council's view seems to be of the word 'development'. The original intention was a visitor's centre with all the prestige and activity that that would bring to Colchester. Colchester alone fulfils all of the requirements for the Roman part of the school curriculum. The potential for catering for this is immense and could so easily have been enabled at Gosbecks. It has huge potential as part of what could be. Sutton Hoo was just a mound of earth until some people with a vision made a lottery application. Now look at what they have. We should have had those millions. It is negative thinking like that of the council that holds us back. But then, that is probably exactly what some want for Colchester. It appears that our council have trousered a half milion pounds of our money plus 15 years worth of interest, to use for helping itself out over maintenance costs, contrary to what it was given for. That, to me, suggests a dishonest act and one that should be challenged. Who accepted this money on our behalf all those years ago and how do they view what has been done in their name since then?