This is our Commonwealth
Who really owns Beeston? Some might argue that ultimately it’s the Queen (via the Crown Estates) because technically speaking she owns any Commonwealth land that she reigns over, which might make her the biggest landowner on the planet. But at a local level, when Her Majesty is busy elsewhere, what about those areas where elected representatives of the people have used public funds to provide places for the use of the people, but where the original intentions have become somewhat lost or forgotten? I’m thinking now of the Town Hall, which was recently sold off by councillors saying things like “I as a council tax payer in the north of the borough am sick and tired of putting money into Beeston Town Hall” and telling us that the £85,000 yearly running costs could be put to better use elsewhere, without actually publicising a persuasive cost-benefit and/or risk analysis.
And those of us who were involved in the 2010/13 campaign to ensure that Middle Street Resource Centre was not lost to public use know that sometimes it’s only when we’re about to lose a treasured resource that we do the work to understand its ownership, and find out what we need to do to keep it. Certainly, if all property owners were well-intentioned, we’d always be given the time and the information we need to present viable alternatives to the public losing out, but this sadly ain’t so when all that matters is the need to relieve a maddening itch caused by an ideologically-driven fiscal policy. And what is the use of an impressive ‘bottom line’ in the context of public services anyway……was money made for mankind, or mankind for money?
But I’m not taking up space in this lovely publication to try and turn back the clock. I’m thinking forward to Saturday July 13th, when anyone who cares about the Beeston area and its public facilities can come and show their support and affection, and make a declaration about what is meaningful to them via the procession we know as the Beeston Carnival. The participants usually congregate first of all in front of the Town Hall which this year will, sadly, have lost much of its significance as the heart of our local democracy. The processing part begins in The Square at noon then moves along our pedestrianised High Street, terminating at Broadgate Park where there will be more events and stalls, with additional activities at the Middle Street Resource Centre. All these aforementioned gathering spaces, when properly used for trading and recreation and entertainment, perform a critical function in our local economy, improving our quality of life and enabling social cohesion. This all boosts our position in the country, and so we’d all suffer if they are not cherished. Our annual carnival is a way for us to demonstrate and showcase what we have to offer, so let’s not forget that this year and for the last 14 years, we’ve had this opportunity because a local couple decided to commit themselves and their personal energies to resurrecting this great event. Well done Lynda and Pat Lally. The Commonwealth of Beestonia would be poorer without you.