Beeston Sea Scouts

Scouting around at Barton Island

 

It’s Friday night between April and September, you’re walking along the banks of the Trent away from Beeston Marina in the direction of Long Eaton and suddenly, the quiet area is interrupted by a splashing sound. Where is it coming from? What’s happening? And most important, who’s making it?

Hint: it’s something to do with Scouting. Give up?

The noise is coming from Barton Island (not to be confused with Barton Buses). What’s happening is some kayaking/canoeing/rowing activity. And the people making it are the 2nd Beeston Sea Scouts.

Barton Island is really an Island within an Island in the Trent which is a bit confusing for some of us. Half of it is owned by the 2nd Beeston Sea Scouts and the other half is nobodies (technically it is in Rushcliffe). It is used by Scouts for a wide range of activities such as Kayaking, Canoeing, Rowing and sometimes land activities like camping, fire-lighting, pioneering or even all of them in one! It is only accessible by boat, unless you fancy a dip in the river.

 

The island also hosts a handful of buildings and designated areas. These include a boat shed for storing boats and paddles, a divisions area where the flagpole and bell are, camping huts for storing bags and sheltering in bad weather, an explorer scout only area and a galley used for cooking.

At least one day a year in the summer the scouts hold an open day on the island for everyone to come and see the fantastic facilities available. Barton Island is also available to be used by community groups and businesses.

For more information about 2nd Beeston Sea Scouts and Barton Island, visit www.2ndbeeston.org.uk

EC

The Seats of Democracy

Beeston’s Town Hall

Being a journalist on the Beestonian brings you into contact with all sorts of people with different stories to tell.  And someone with quite a few stories to tell is Dawn Reeves, facilitator, trainer and author of a coffee table book all about various town halls across England; their history, uses and future. That universal symbol of local democracy seems to be under threat from the very councils that they belong to. Beeston’s is a prime example. But more on that later.

We arranged to meet at Greenhoods, and so over a hot drink I chatted to Dawn about herself, her interest in town halls and the purpose of the book. “I was born in London, but moved to Nottingham with my family. I got a job with Nottingham County Council, and then as a manager with Ashfield District Council. Working in those buildings, made me realise how important they are to communities, and not just for paying bills. I’m now back in Beeston and love it. I love the creativity of the town.”

Turning to her generously illustrated volume ‘Town Hall: Buildings, People and Power’. “Working in local government, I realised that there are three main architectural styles of buildings that are used as town halls; the grand Victorian palaces like Bradford, Birmingham and Todmorden; the art deco styles of Torquay, Hornsey and Nottinghamshire and the postmodernist structures at Newcastle, Mansfield and Worcestershire. Although this book is broken down into themes, rather than styles.  I touch on four general themes: ‘Purpose’, ‘People’, ‘Power’ and ‘Future’.”

Nearly 30 councils and their town halls are described and evaluated in the book, that includes some eye-catching photography, I asked Dawn how she got the book completed. “I have some friends in Yorkshire, and around the country and I just basically roped them in to either write about their town hall or take photos of it.  I am planning another volume. One, which should feature Beeston’s original building. The book is self published through Shared Press and with financial assistance from CCLA.”

The story of Beeston’s town hall would make a worthy inclusion in volume two. How Broxtowe Council sold the building off for £425,000 to the Cornerstone Church, whilst ignoring other interested parties, including Beeston’s Civic Society; who wanted to turn it into a community resource for weddings, arts and theatre events and similar community celebrations. Very much like Brent’s does with theirs. But it was sold, even though the residents of Broxtowe will be out of pocket by some £155,000, as the council will be spending £533k on moving computer servers to it’s newer building, legal fees and doing up the building before the church moves in. But the council claim that it will be saving £85,000 a year on maintenance and repair costs. It is understood that the building will only be available to its church members, therefore excluding the citizens of NG9, whose past relations would have paid for the town hall to be built through their rates bill.

Last year the Civic Society collected over £5000 from residents through crowd funding to raise a legal challenge. But the findings from a barrister suggested that this challenge would not be successful. The group are currently working on some Freedom of Information requests about how the council had reached its unpopular decision on whom it selected to have the building.

With local elections coming up in May, it remains to be seen as to whether the sale will actually go through by then, or maybe a change of administration may have other ideas.

Besides writing about town halls and training businesses, Dawn has also written a couple of novels, ‘Hard Change’ and ‘We Know What We Are’. Also printed by Shared Press. These are urban thrillers that also include the shady dealings of fictional local councils.

If you would like to hear Dawn talk about her love of town halls, then she is appearing at the amazing Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham on the 10th of April at 7pm. Admission will be £3, including refreshments.

CDF

The Future’s Write: Amateur authors invited to write the next chapter of Beeston

If you’re reading this, you *probably* live in Beeston (although if you read the rest of this issue, you’ll find that’s not always the case). But, for those of you who live the majority of your life in this town, you’ll no doubt have thoughts and opinions of what you’d like the future of Beeston to hold. After all, this is the place we call home, it’s pretty important.

So if you’re a budding blogger, willing writer and far-sighted futurist as well as a proud Beestonian, you could see your name in print as part of a competition to write the next chapter in the rich history of Beeston.

To celebrate their 120th anniversary, the family owned, family run business CP Walker & Son commissioned local historian and writer David Hallam to help them to tell and celebrate the story of Beeston over the period 1896-2016. The book is organised with chapters covering each decade from the 1890s to the 2010s. Now, having chartered the history of Beeston, Rex and Dan Walker have created this competition to look at how the town might develop in the 2020s.

As Rex explains, “We are keen supporters of community projects and initiatives that benefit the local population. Our book charts the ups and indeed the downs that Beeston has faced during its history. However, we then thought, what happens next? We were chatting about the future of the town with the various developments going on and realised there’s a whole new chapter to write, perhaps even a couple. Who better to write them than local people like us who love their town? That’s where the competition idea came from.”

He continues: “Lots of people make New Year Resolutions to start writing or to rekindle their hobby, but getting published is too often out of reach. This a chance for people to share their ideas and their love for Beeston and to start a debate that will play a part in forming the next chapter of our town’s tale, perhaps even the next century.”

If reading this has got your brain stirring with thoughts of what the future could hold or how you could implement your brilliant vision on the town, and you’re just itching to get writing, then here’s what you need to know before you put pen to paper:

  • The competition is open to anyone with three age categories: Primary School, Secondary school and 16 plus.
  • There’s no word limit per se, but you’re advised to try and stick to around 1000 words maximum if possible.
  • Try and look to the future with a positive outlook, write something to stir the imagination and get people thinking about what comes next and how it can happen (We’re not talking pipe dreams here!)
  • Entries will be judged by an independent panel of local people, chaired by Rex Walker and featuring Editor in Chief of The Beestonian Matt Turpin, Phillipa Dytham-Double from Double Image Photography and David Hallam, author of ‘The Story of Beeston’.
  • The deadline is April 23rd and entries are preferred via email to nextchapter@cpwalker.co.uk
  • If providing a hard copy entry, please post them to CP Walker & Son or drop it in to their office.
  • Entrants must consent to having their work published and to taking part in any publicity around the competition should they win.
  • For more information, visit https://www.cpwalker.co.uk/pages/nextchapter or the dedicated Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/beestonthenextchapter.

This is a fantastic opportunity, so once you’ve extracted all the inspiration possible from reading the rest of this issue, get your future-thinking in gear, because you never know what it might lead to. Good luck, Beestonians!

JM

We Dig NG9: Plants gone wild

Tamar Feast on Beeston’s Wild Side

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Six years ago, this odd patch of grass next to Myford’s factory was basically a dumping ground for litter, garden trimmings and erm… discarded golf paraphernalia. I passed it, wearily, twice daily.

Four years ago, I got the Council to not cut it, and started establishing it as a wildflower dumping ground for litter and garden trimmings instead.

One year ago, it was recovering from erroneous grass cuts due to the Council’s sheer circumlocution-like ineptitude. The burgeoning meadow flowers I’d planted and sown the years before were denied their fifteen minutes of fame and, despite managing to win a Level 4 award in the ‘RHS East Midlands in Bloom: It’s Your Neighbourhood’ competition, it looked pretty sorry for itself.

Despite more set-backs this year, [fanfare] the grass has now erupted in a SUMMER BOOM of colour. This is largely thanks to extra wildflower seed donated by a guy called Chris, who sowed it with his daughter, Holly, once the footpath reopened earlier in the year.

It’s not just about pretty flowers, though. There’s a brash heap and log pile (good for grass snakes, insects, invertebrates and small mammals), and fruit trees and hedglings from The Woodland Trust.

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RHS Wisley it ain’t. But it IS a-buzz with pollinators flitting from plant to plant, taking pit stops on the Bug Squat (hotels are sooo ‘Bridgford). Here too, Hedgehogs rummage around; Bats and Swifts (numbers of the latter are worryingly low this year) hunt overhead in the last of the light at dusk and the gloaming.

It really is simple: less is more. Leave a piece of your garden to ‘go over’, or plant wild flowers if you prefer (native ones are best – so you know they’ll help insects in this country).

To some, it may look weedy (“I’d torch the lot” said one lady to me while I topped-up the bird feeders). But wild verges work hard, helping our underappreciated Beestonians: the critters pollinating your fruit, veg, and flowers; or eating the ones eating your fruit, veg and flowers. And they need all the help they can get.

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We love to see wildlife in our gardens. But if we tidy away the places it lives, feeds and breeds, or if the only ‘wild abandon’ we allow is that with which we throw down slug pellets, then it could soon disappear. Don’t get me started on slug pellets – I don’t have the word allowance…

Although small, rewilding areas like this connects one patch of habitat to another, so species who thrive or rely on linear movement; on mixing species through urban areas, or on stop-offs to larger habitats – such as Attenborough Nature Reserve – can survive.

It really is simple: less is more. Leave a piece of your garden to ‘go over’, or plant wild flowers if you prefer (native ones are best – so you know they’ll help insects in this country). If you have space for a pond, this will exponentially boost the benefit – even an old washing-up bowl sunk in the ground, filled with rain water and some rocks (for escape) will soon be colonised.

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If all this sounds like too much mess and effort, or you’re only up for doing one thing to help wildlife: please STOP USING SLUG PELLETS.

True to its word, an established ‘wild’ patch can get on with very little interference from us.  And, though We Dig NG9’s will never be proper idyllic ‘meadow’, of course – if it looks nice, well that’s just a bonus.  (TF)

Connect with We Dig NG9 on Twitter and Instagram: @WeDigNG9

WeDigNG9@gmail.com

TF

Let Us Spray: Beeston’s Street Art Festival

The use of aerosol paint to spray shapes, words or figures on a wall or surface is often seen as vandalism to some, but art to others.

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Some of the country’s best spray can artists descended on Beeston recently, to colour the town in more colours than your average bag of Skittles. They didn’t arrive under the cover of darkness like Banksy appears to do, but in broad daylight and an audience watched while they created their unique works of art, with their £3.50 a can of spray paint. They were here to participate in Beeston’s first Street Art Festival, which took place around the town on the weekend of the 16th June.

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I caught up with Jeanie Barton, the driving force behind the project, who welcomed the break from gardening, to talk about the weekend and how things went. “It was brilliant. It went really well.  I’ve had lots of emails from people saying how happy the artwork has made them. The artists were happy with how things went too. Which is rewarding in itself. People are really impressed with the quality of the work created. I don’t think there’s been a single complaint about it. There was a bottleneck at the top of the twitchell by Round Hill School on the Monday, as parents and children wanted to see how their school looked now. There’s a great mix of styles. Something for everyone.”

Turning to the original plan, which was to decorate that dull part of Station Road, between Birds and B&M. I asked Jeanie about the origins of the idea and why it hasn’t taken place yet. “It started with a posting on Beeston Updated. Someone said how street art could make a town more colourful and that something should be done with that wall near Birds. Other people agreed, so I set up a separate Facebook page and people started to join and shared photos of walls from across the world that had been decorated.  This was in April last year. Broxtowe Borough Council was approached and liked the idea. They have £8000 that’s ready to be spent on art. But things went quiet, so we thought we could decorate some other bare walls around the town instead and went for sponsorship and Crowdfunding. Altogether we raised over £3000.”

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I then asked Jeanie about what’s next. “We have a few more areas to do, such as Hallams and the Victory Club. Hopefully more owners of buildings will come forward that they’d like decorating. We will also be producing a proper guide to them all later this year, with photos of the work, together with profiles of the artists. People from Cheltenham, Bristol etc have been to see the designs. Bristol has its own annual street art festival. So I don’t see why we can’t have one too.”

By the time you are reading this, hopefully there will be some good news about those grim walls on Station Road and how they are going to be transformed into something more in keeping with the artistic identity of Beeston.

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The names of the artists include Tunn, Boster, Onga and Emily Catherine, Zane, Zabou and Goya.

CDF

I Am Beeston: Alfie Russell, Broxtowe Youth Mayor

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The #IAmBeeston project is now in its third successful year of interviewing and photographing people that either live or work or both in the NG9 area. Up to now mainly adults have been featured. But for this first special colour edition, we’ve turned our attention on a member of our younger population. Someone who aims to help and support others under the age of eighteen through their influence and involvement with Broxtowe Borough Council.

I met up with Alfie and his mum Catherine at their house and had a chat with them, in their large sunny kitchen, whilst Alfie’s younger brother Frank was watching some World Cup action. Catherine is a neighbour of mine, so I have known Alfie since he was a mere bump, which is going on for nearly fourteen years now. So I thought Alfie would be an excellent addition to the project, when Catherine told me about his important role in the community.

“Beeston is a very nice place to live. It’s great. It’s somewhere where you know everyone, and there’s a considerable amount of support for young people.”

“I’ve been the Youth Mayor for Broxtowe since November last year. I had to go through an interview process before I was selected. This means that I am also part of the Youth Parliament, and I’m looking at transport and LBGT issues. At the moment I’m currently working on life skills. Helping others to learn about finances, money etc. Also being part of the Broxtowe Youth Voice, I am helping to promote new groups at the ‘Shed’, the Beeston Youth and Community Centre.”

“I’m a pupil at Alderman White School, which enjoy going to. It’s a good school. Beeston is a very nice place to live. It’s great. It’s somewhere where you know everyone, and there’s a considerable amount of support for young people, with sports clubs, the Cubs and Scouts. I am a member of the Boys Brigade, and I help the younger boys with their activities. They usually have a subject or theme to work with. This is going towards getting my bronze in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme. I also go to the Pathfinders Youth Club at Christ Church on Chilwell Road.”

“Beeston is full of friendly people, who are only to happy to help if you’re out and have a problem, like getting lost. It’s a good community. The library is very good now that it’s been updated. There are some good resources there. I like looking at all the old photographs of how Beeston used to look.”

“I think Beeston has some good shops. I buy things from lots of different places, but I especially like Poundland and WH Smiths. I like to take our dog Lenny for walks in Highfields, or down by the weir fields. We might then stop off for a drink at the Canalside Heritage Centre. I’d like to see a cinema here, as there would be somewhere else to go on my doorstep. I’d also like to see a Pizza Express. We sometimes get a tasty takeaway from the Cottage Balti.  I always like to meet my friends at the Beeman and I think the recent Street Art festival has made Beeston a lot more colourful.”

CDF

Creative Beeston: The Remarkable Recycling Gala

The Green Scene

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Spring arrived this week with a sprinkle of vibrant yellow, and the blossoming forsythias appeared gilded in the welcome sunshine. Ah…a hint of warmth in the air, the promise of lighter evenings and Sunday walks without the need for several layers of outer garments. Spring is traditionally a time for renewed energy and colour and we are greeting it with open arms after the cruel icy blasts from previous weeks.

It was this idea of new beginnings and the recycling that occurs in nature that reminded me of a fantastic creative event that is happening this summer. A rich mix of recycled art and craft and recycling initiatives which highlights the issues surrounding waste, The Remarkable Recycling Gala is uprooting itself from where it was originally planted as part of Sherwood Art Week and hopes to spread the word to a wider audience in its fifth year.

This year there will be over twenty stalls dedicated to skillfully recycled products which range from sea glass jewellery to portraits of famous icons made entirely from recycled drinks cans

Originally held at Sherwood Community Centre, you won’t be surprised to hear that they have chosen Beeston, which already has an amazing art scene, as the perfect place to plant this annual event for 2018. Beeston also has a keen eye on environmental issues with Greening Beeston, The Canalside Heritage Centre and We Dig NG9 being just some of the active groups that come to mind.   Building on the current momentum around zero waste emphasised by BBCs Blue Planet, the event was conceptualised by Greg Hewitt and came about through his passion for environmental activism and concerns about waste and consumerism.

The gala has got people talking about and acting on the issues of waste and recycling in a fun and enjoyable way and those involved are delighted that Middle Street Resource Centre accepted Greg’s proposal to hold it at their creative community space. Not only does MSRC have space inside and outside to accommodate the array of craft stalls, art exhibits, creative workshops, performances and information stands, it is an inclusive centre which offers a wide range of courses and activities for the whole community which fits in well with the gala’s ethos.

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As in previous years, stallholders from Nottingham and the surrounding areas were invited to apply to sell their work at the gala, and this year there will be over twenty stalls dedicated to skillfully recycled products which range from sea glass jewellery to portraits of famous icons made entirely from recycled drinks cans. Since the beginning The Remarkable Recycling Gala has received support from more commercial local recyclers such as Paguro and Sarah Turner- Eco Art and Design – you might have seen some of Sarah’s work at Nottingham’s Light Night event earlier in the year.

Recycling is a great way to make art that doesn’t impact on our environment

A change of location has attracted newcomers to gala, which Greg is also pleased about as this not only brings fresh ideas to the event but also suggests that both aesthetic and practical recycling is on the rise. As well as inspiration from the stallholders, visitor to the gala will also be treated to exhibits from recycled sculptor Michele Reader and workshops where they can create their own recycled art or craft item, many of which are free of charge. There is always entertainment, in the form of spoken word or song and this year Greg is hoping to create a mini cinema experience! If we are lucky, they might give Beestonia The Movie an overdue airing.

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In a bid to promote ‘make do and mend’ culture that also contributes greatly to the preservation of our planet, Nottingham Fixers will be bringing along their popular Repair Café which they launched at last year’s gala and provides the opportunity for people to have items repaired rather than thrown away, thus minimising waste. Another non-profit organisation, Playworks who provide resources like the Scrapstore and whose focus it is to improve play experiences for children and young people in Nottingham will also be there on the day to promote and involve people in their valuable services.

You will be astonished by the sheer imagination and talent that goes into each carefully crafted piece on show at the gala. Simple household objects such as tin cans and jam jars are made into pretty tea lights, tax discs and old postage stamps recycled into beautiful pieces of artwork, broken skateboard wood is reclaimed to make bottle openers and old books into clocks. The finish on these individual items is often so good that it is difficult to tell what they used to be but the message is clear, recycling is a great way to make art that doesn’t impact on our environment and that art only serves to enhance our environment.

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The Remarkable Recycling Gala is a family event, with making activities aimed at children and adults, which visitors in the past have described as ‘inspiring’ and ‘enjoyable’ and that offer ‘new recycling ideas.’  The workshops use recycled or waste materials to demonstrate how versatile recycled resources can be and can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It is an all-day event with all profits going to Middle Street in support of the valuable work they do for the community. There will be entertainment throughout the day and Middle Street will be providing the food and refreshments.

In a constantly evolving town like ours it’s really exciting that this event is bringing a fresh approach to the craft revolution and I am sure Beeston, with it’s abundance of green spaces and conservation areas will play the perfect host.

www.facebook.com/RemarkableRecyclingGala

www.remarkablerecyclinggala.weebly.com

DU

Beeston Beats: Bendigo review

Happy New Year Beestonians! Let us hope you have all recovered from the toils of the festive season and the super dry period of abstinence that is now upon us.

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I may be a little late to the party with this one so to speak. January is always quiet, and we are all recovering from the shear indulgence and hedonism of the month prior to that really, aren’t we? I decided to take this one a little more low-key and finally check out the (relatively) new lounger’s venue that has opened in Beeston. The Bendigo Lounge, named after Beeston born, bare knuckle fighter ‘William Abendigo Thompson’ AKA ‘Bendigo’. Bendigo moved to Beeston a little later in his life and lived in a house on Wollaton road until his passing in 1880, where to this day a blue plaque is left in commemoration.

Proudly occupying a prime spot on the High Road, the former McDonald’s site has been re-claimed and put to use. The re-fit has been quoted as costing £580,000. The Bendigo lounge opened its doors to the general public on the 15th November 2017 and I must say, I feel quite proud to live in a town where “trading patterns” were not sufficient to allow the fast food giant to take hold.

The space is an intermediate between coffee shops and pubs and has a welcoming feel

The arrival of the Bendigo lounge has filled a much needed gap in the high street and also within the town’s night-time economy. The venue serves food from the morning right through until the evening and has a menu to cater for all needs and/or preferences, including a separate vegan menu and a comprehensive list of gluten free options.

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Typical fayre on offer comprises of typical British favourites such as; sandwiches, panini, salads, burgers, tapas, curry and steak. Breakfast options (for both veggies and carnivores) and a variety of coffees are also on offer. A trip to the Bendigo lounge won’t be too damaging to the pocket either. Most menu items for mains are priced at around about £10. Brunch options are served all day and are a little less expensive at around the £6- £8 mark.

 

Not forgetting drinks, again we have the typical selection of teas soft drinks, wines, cocktails and draft beers. In addition there is also a variety of smoothies, milkshakes, juices and home-made favourites.

Décor is eclectically quirky. An array of lampshades litter the ceiling, whilst the walls are decorated in colourful wallpapers, set behind a showcase of artworks, mirror’s and portraits. There is even a wall decorated in stylised images of Bendigo adopting a fighting stance. The furniture has an up-cycled feel and the table tops are brightly painted in an array of designs. The space is an intermediate between coffee shops and pubs and has a welcoming feel. At the front of the venue there is outdoor seating. I noticed the presence of bi fold doors. Obviously due to the weather these haven’t been opened yet, but I can imagine this would add a nice airy feel to the place come summer time.

Current offers include the “Cheeky Monday’s” Where you can get a free drink or dessert with any special, burger or main, and “Tapas Tuesdays” (which is when I went) offering 3 tapas and a glass of wine for £9.95. This offer is particularly good when shared. My companion for the evening and I both got this. We made sure to order a different trio of tapas each and found between us we had a lovely mix and match of dishes to enjoy. Service was polite and reasonably quick. The staff were all very friendly and seemingly on point despite the venue not having been open for long. For me this place gets a definitive thumbs up, and I shall most certainly be visiting again.

The Bendigo Lounge is typically open from 9am until 11pm, On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays the hours are extended until midnight. For more information please see the website on http://thelounges.co.uk/bendigo/

DB

Oxjam 2018: Aiming for £100k!

This year, if we have another successful Oxjam Music Festival, we have every chance of reaching the magic £100,000 in total for the eight years that Oxjam Beeston has been running – that’s our target anyway!

Last year’s Team has already had their first informal get-together and we can announce that this year’s Takeover event will be on Saturday 13th October. Apart from the main Takeover event, there is likely to be a Pub Quiz, an Unplugged/Acoustic night (possibly September), a Classical concert (17th Novelber confirmed) and a Ceilidh, probably also in November.

Now is not too early to be starting the process of planning such a large and complex set of events – and it’s not too early for you to volunteer to get involved. Firstly, if you want to perform, look out for ‘Registration’ round  about June time; during August we’ll be calling for volunteers to help on Takeover day.

If, however, you think you have a bit more time and would like to make a bigger commitment, we are looking for people to join our Team to help plan and organise the Festival. Here’s what we are looking for:

  • people with project management skills
  • people with good local knowledge of bands, artists, Beeston venues
  • people with knowledge of sound production, PAs and so forth
  • people with IT and/or design skills
  • anyone who is just willing and enthusiastic

Apart from any ‘specialism’ you might be able to offer, you need to be flexible and adaptable and prepared to help out in ways you hadn’t thought of! In terms of your time commitment, it is less important how much time you have available, than that you deliver what you promise!

Finally, I’m sure you know this anyway, but all members of the team are voluntary and unpaid.

If you think you have something to offer, please email me – colintucker18@gmail.com. I’ll arrange for you to meet with me or another member of the Team.

£100K! Big ask! But we can do it, Beeston!

CT

Beeston Town Hall: What’s Happening?

Hopefully, this article isn’t news to you, and the substantial media coverage the planned selling off of the Town Hall has garnered over the last few weeks has already informed you. I’ve spoke about it in the papers, on TV and radio and, of course, all over social media, as have representatives from Beeston and District Heritage Society and others.

It is often the case that when big issues like this come about that a lot of confusion follows: rumours, misinformation etc. It is seldom malice, but more a case of Chinese Whispers, as the story pings around the internet or through general chatter. I helped man a stall in Beeston Town Centre on Saturday, and was surprised by some of the suppositions bandied about. While the vast majority of people I talked to were very much anti disposing of the Town Hall, most had a phalanx of good questions the answers of which might be obvious to me,(who has been working on things like this for years so sees the cogs and wheels), but not so much to someone who hasn’t got that same geekish attraction to civic stuff.

As such, I’ve written the following FAQ (frequently asked questions) to help clarify as much as I can right now; and to show you how YOU can have your say. Information is a vital component to democracy; do not hesitate to get in touch if a question you have remains unanswered here, and myself or a fellow member of the Civic Society will be happy to attempt to answer.

Although I am a committee member of Beeston and District Civic Society, the entirety of this article does not necessarily reflect the exact views of the society, and are expressed in a personal capacity as a resident of Beeston. 

WHAT IS BEESTON TOWN HALL?

The building was built on Foster Avenue by the people of Beeston in 1936 as a civic centre to Beeston. It’s a fine building, with some wonderful exterior and interior features, and since the adjacent library was rejuvenated last year, has been seen from a new perspective as the library now opens out onto the area. With the library, the new council offices and the police station It forms a civic centre to the centre of Beeston, on a parade of fine buildings.

WHAT GOES ON THERE?

The building currently has several functions, serving as offices and as a location for council committees and meetings. It has a purpose-built council chamber, reception rooms and more. Civic functions are also held here on occasion.

SO WHY SELL IT?

Money and ideology.

SURELY COUNCILS NEED MONEY THOUGH, SO THAT’S A GOOD THING?

Of course. And if the figures issued by the council are to be believed, the upkeep of the building is considerable, totalling over £100,000 per annum.

WELL IT SEEMS LOGICAL TO SELL IT THEN, DOESN’T IT?

That’s the way the council are portraying it. If the council continues to spend so much money, then that is cash diverted from more pressing needs. However, this argument presents a false dichotomy. This is not a question of ‘this or that’.

The first point to note is that the figures released by the council on the upkeep costs are open to a great deal of scepticism. Not only do they not seem to tally with other figures in the public domain, but they include duplicate and transferable costs: business rates for instance. Staff costs and server costs are also included, those these are costs that will have to be retained even if the Town Hall closes. It seems that an emotive, 6 figure number has almost been plucked out of the air in an attempt to justify this.

The building is an asset to the council, and an either be cashed in once, or made to work to generate income into the future (and still be ours).

SO WHAT WOULD IT ACTUALLY SAVE?

We can only find that out with proper scrutiny, in the form of an impact study. However, the council have not responded to the Civic Society’s call for this to be conducted, which means the savings they set out are utterly pie-in-the-sky. We call on them to conduct an independent assessment.

BUT WHATEVER THE FIGURE, IT STILL COSTS SOMETHING TO RUN, YES?

Of course, buildings do. But the Town Hall serves a purpose and has great potential to recoup costs – and possibly even turn a profit – if used correctly.

TURN A PROFIT??? HOW?

Well, venue hire is an ever-growing market.

BUT YOU CAN’T HIRE THE TOWN HALL? I’VE CERTAINLY NOT HEARD THAT YOU CAN.

You can, but the council have been notoriously keen NOT to promote this. The Hall was once licensed for marriages: I met a couple of pensioners who had done just that many years ago. When I married a few years back, I enquired about marrying there, but found their license had lapsed, so instead had to have the ceremony at Nottingham Council House. With very little effort, the council could make the place available.

That’s just one idea. I’ve heard dozens of brilliant suggestions over the last few weeks, including a fully costed detailed submission from a local retired academic.

SO THE COUNCIL ARE KEEN TO HEAR THESE IDEAS?

Errr….no. The public consultation form that is currently available for residents to complete gives just three options.

WHICH ARE?

  1. RETENTION: leave the building as it is (where it will be left to decay and then sold off at a later date)
  2. SELL FOR HOUSING: This sounds ok, as we do have a housing crisis, but would almost certainly mean the demolition of the building as it is purpose-built to be functional as a town hall and would cost more to convert than to start from scratch. Plus, many of the exterior and interior features are worth a lot of money on the open market, so would be too attractive to retain.
  3. DEMOLITION AND SELLING OFF TO A DEVELOPER: This is almost certainly the favoured choice for the council, as it means getting a quick buck and having the building off their hands as soon as possible.

UMMM.. THAT LOOKS VERY MUCH LIKE A POORLY WRITTEN, LEADING QUESTION CONSULTATION.

Indeed. The way it is worded, and the way the council are refusing to extend the consultation plan despite the Civic Society requesting as such (conducting a consultation over Christmas, when the populace is less likely to notice it in the haze of Quality Street and turkey dinners- see also Network Rail last year) suggests that the administration is keen not to consult, but close down any objection.

BUT AREN’T WE A CONSERVATIVE LED COUNCIL? SURELY ‘CONSERVATIVE’ MEANS RETAINING OUR SHARED HERITAGE?

While I am sure many Conservatives do think that way, and for that they deserve our credit, the leader of Broxtowe, Cllr. Richard Jackson takes a much different ideological view. Paradoxically, he does not believe that the council he leads should exist at all, having voted for the abolition of Broxtowe at County level, where he is also a councillor. To suggest that abolishing a council and absorbing the responsibilities into the County would be financially beneficial ( Broxtowe Councillors receive a relatively small expenses payment for their role, while County councillors receive a significant sum that would no doubt be boosted by extra responsibilities) is perhaps unfair: this is more about Cllr. Jackson’s philosophy that a council should do as little as possible. After his plans to abolish Broxtowe were thwarted at County level, he’s doing the next best thing: selling off the council incrementally. The council will thus receive a bump in their budgets through selling off the Hall, but once it is sold, it is gone forever.

We propose that the building is retained and invested in so it becomes sustainable,  so future generations can enjoy it and feel that they have some stake in their town, as our predecessors in the 1930’s so wished.

IS IT EVEN THEIRS TO SELL?

A moot point. Broxtowe absorbed the building when it came into being in 1974, but it will require scrutiny on the legalities of their responsibilities of property from the Beeston and Stapleford Urban District, Broxtowe’s predecessor.  Only a proper impact assessment can determine this.

Not a single councillor mentioned that they wanted to sell the Town Hall in their 2015 election materials. This is utterly without mandate.

CAN ANYTHING BE DONE?

Yes it can, but you have to do it, and do it now.

  1. Fill in the consultation form online: it takes five minutes. We recommend ticking ‘none of the above’ and putting your suggestions on usage in the space provided.
  2. Sign the petition. We have had a staggering response to this so far and will be presenting it to the council soon, but still ensure your name is on it.
  3. Write to councillors: first, your own, then members of the committee who will determine this decision. These can be found in full below. Be reasonable and polite in your correspondence. 
  4. Write to the MP: Although she is for selling it off (see below) she is obliged to listen to you at the very least. Again, please be reasoned and polite when doing so: anna.soubry.mp@parliament.uk 
  5. Tell people about this: not everyone is on the internet or has noticed this, so ensure friends and neighbours, or even random passers-by, are informed. Feel free to print this off and distribute if you so wish.
  6. Attend the council meeting where this will be discussed. The council meeting where the matter will be discussed will be held in the Town Hall at 7pm on the 31st January: it is here that the petition will be handed to the mayor and a representation given. Please attend -and see the Town Hall at the same time!

WHO IS ON OUR SIDE?

We’ve even been surprised by the response: several hundred consultation forms have been returned to the council already, and the petition has 2070 signatures online and many more over other locations.

Also:

  • SIR NEIL COSSENS: The retired head of English Heritage has come out to support the campaign, and has written to the council expressing his dismay at the plans.
  • PROFESSOR SIR MARTYN POLIAKOFF: As well as being a global scientific sensation, Martyn is also very proud of where he lives and frequently engages in civic matters.
  • BEESTON AND DISTRICT LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY: The venerable local historians do a wonderful job showing Beeston’s rich past history.
  • DR PETER ROBINSON: The brilliant mind behind Beeston’s (and beyond!) Blue Plaque project is very much against the sell-off, and has accordingly sent representations to council.
  • STEWART CRAVEN: Over a decade ago, Stewart looked at the canalside cottages by Beeeston Weir and saw a potential no one else could. Gumption, hard-work and belief saw this vision made real when the cottages opened as the Canalside Heritage Centre last year. Such an addition shows how we can be innovative with our heritage, and build something for all of us to share.
  • THE BEESTONIAN: Well, of course.
  • POSSIBLY, BROXTOWE COUNCILLORS: Steve Carr (Lib Dem) has stated his opposition, and we’ve heard rumours of discord within the Conservative group about the proposals. Labour, as far as I am aware, have not set down an official line which is rather disappointing.  If this changes, I will willingly amend.

WHO ARE WE UP AGAINST?

  • CLLR RICHARD JACKSON: The brainchild behind this, the aforementioned Jackson is a vigorous asset-stripper and a staunch opponent of public ownership.
  • ANNA SOUBRY MP: We can perhaps forgive Soubry’s lack of civic affinity to Beeston as she lives in the rather more genteel bucolic fields of Charnwood, Leicestershire, but she has stated that she supports Cllr Jackson and wants the building disposed of. She claims that she doesn’t support demolition, but as explained above that would be the most likely outcome of any sale.
  • DEVELOPERS: While the council have struggled to find a developer for the Square Phase 2 (despite numerous promises that a deal is ‘nearly done’, huge amounts of public money have so far failed to get anything certain), the location of the Town Hall is hugely attractive to developers, prime land that could be used for high-end housing, or simply for land banking.  

CAN WE DO THIS? OR HAVE THEY MADE THEIR MIND UP ALREADY?

We can, and with determination, we will. Last year, Network Rail were shocked by the level of opposition to their plans to close access across the tracks to Attenborough Nature Reserve and put the plans on ice for the foreseeable future. We can do this, if we do this together.

RESOURCES

CONSULTATION FORM:

Currently not being made available: we will explain more when we find out why.

PETITION:

https://www.change.org/p/broxtowe-council-save-beeston-town-hall-from-demolition

LIST OF RELEVANT COUNCILLORS TO EMAIL / WRITE TO:

mick.brown@broxtowe.gov.uk

mel.crow@broxtowe.gov.uk

shane.easom@broxtowe.gov.uk

jan.goold@broxtowe.gov.uk

richard.jackson@broxtowe.gov.uk

martin.plackett@broxtowe.gov.uk

ken.rigby@broxtowe.gov.uk

paul.simpson@broxtowe.gov.uk

milan.radulovic@broxtowe.gov.uk

dawn.elliott@broxtowe.gov.uk

greg.marshall@broxtowe.gov.uk

john.mcgrath@broxtowe.gov.uk

ruth.hyde@broxtowe.gov.uk

 

 

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