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

 

 

Let’s Go To Beeston – Again!

 

Most Beestonian’s will recognise the logo for ‘Let’s Go to Beeston’ which was previously part of the Beeston BID campaign, and ran from 2010 – 2015. The management of the website is now being taken over by Beeston Community Resource (BCR) which manages Middle Street Resource Centre.

The handover officially took place at the resource centre on October 5, and the Let’s Go to Beeston site and related social media are all in the very capable hands of a group of volunteers at Middle Street.

LGTB used to receive funding but is now a charitable free service and is supported by Voluntary Action Beeston and Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Previously, the focus was very much on the centre of Beeston but now they are keen to involve the wider community, especially with the recently opened Canalside Heritage Centre in Beeston Rylands.

The new partnership is ideal, and is providing  not only the volunteers with something to put their skills to good use, but also to raise the profile of LGTB again and further benefit Beeston as a town and as a community.

There are over 70+ volunteers at Middle Street, which began life as a Nottinghamshire County Council Day Centre for people affected by mental health issues. Today, the centre is still supportive of people with mental health issues, and a lot of the volunteers have experienced and still experience such issues as part of their everyday lives.

By teaming up with Let’s Go to Beeston, it gives the volunteers the opportunity to put their skills into practice and give them something to work on which benefits them and the community of Beeston. As the management is mainly web and social media based, those with IT skills such as Karen will be able to contribute plenty to the online presence.

Karen spoke at the launch about the relationship between mental health and the online world, particularly the impacts of social media. She pointed out that adults who don’t use the internet can become socially excluded, so becoming familiar with IT is important for communication. Despite the negativity that can arise from being on social media, she emphasises that “it’s about how human beings use [IT and social media].”

Karen will be part of the admin team for the website, and will work to “develop friendlier, kinder social media” as well as making sure that the website becomes a resource that is “run by the community for the community.”

Colin, another volunteer, has been supporting Middle Street for 2 years now. “It’s a fantastic space for people to come, talk, get support and learn,” he says. “I’m really passionate about Beeston.” He is currently studying computing and system development which has come in handy while working on the Let’s Go to Beeston website and he hopes that it will “help people see all the good things that are going on and showcase the very best of Beeston.”

Although the website is still a work in progress, there are already plenty of resources on there such as a community section, Beeston News and a business directory which needs the help of local people to keep it up to date as new businesses come into the town, and others leave. This community input is something that the team are keen to incorporate. Colin calls for local photographers to send in their photos of Beeston to contribute to the website and celebrate Beeston in the most visual way possible. As well as this, he wants residents to let them know what your Beeston news is, and if you’ve got an event there will soon be a dedicated events calendar so people know what’s going on.

Linda Lally was also in attendance at the launch, and says: “My knowledge of Beeston and Let’s Go to Beeston comes from previous involvement. When Steph [Marketing Manager at NET] came to see us there was a good opportunity for Middle Street, for people, and volunteers. I will use my expertise to engage with volunteers to give them confidence and self-esteem.”

There are also a few other developments arising from the re-launch of the website, which wants to take advantage of the 40,000 people who continued to engage with the site last year. The website and its ethos is ‘worth preserving’ and is a platform which can help in terms of submitting proposals for new things around the town, and is a good place to share points about what the community think Beeston could benefit from having or doing.

They’ve got a newsletter which can be found at Middle Street, which is the place to go for anyone who wants to talk with the volunteers working on the site. The next two weeks will see the centre hosting various events for Mental Health Awareness Weeks, and they’ll have an open day next Monday from 2-7pm, which people are encouraged to attend and get involved with.

All in all, the Let’s Go to Beeston website can only be a positive thing for the town and the volunteers working to make it the best it can be, and to provide an online space for residents of all ages and backgrounds to keep up to date with what’s happening.

You can visit the website at: http://www.letsgotobeeston.co.uk/

New Social Media app ‘Nextdoor’ arrives in Beeston Rylands

Greetings Beestonites, I hope you are all managing to pack in a few last minute events before the end of summer! I for one have been preparing for some down time before the autumn events rush.

Needless to say, just because I wasn’t socialising outwardly, didn’t mean that there hasn’t been some worthwhile social activity going on. I decided to mingle in cyberspace and i found online social network called Nextdoor. The site originated in the USA and to date Nextdoor is available in 50% of the neighbourhoods within the UK. Beeston happens to be one of them.

It is clear this social media platform is gaining momentum. Its mission statement to connect people in real-time, that live nearby, is a massive plus point.

I, like many other young professionals, have had to live in the land of fixed term contracts and as such, have been granted a new address almost every other year. Facebook is loaded with friends (BIG emphasis on the inverted comma’s there) from various locations and life chapters from far and wide. It is a nice platform to say hi to distant acquaintances but I realised that since moving back to the Rylands two years ago, I didn’t actually know that many people in the area anymore. I was feeling physically and psychologically exhausted with travelling around to different cities to visit people all the time. I decided to give this media platform a go in the hope that I would be able to connect to more people nearby and get to know my local area a bit better. I know I want to become more integrated into my local area and I don’t think I am alone.

Frequent relocations are the type of social situation that leads to the fragmentation of communities. As people become more transient, they become more isolated and stressed. I know myself it is hard to feel integrated, and the exhaustion that sets in from frequent moves is also a factor that limits initiation of meaningful social contact.  Research conducted at the University of Birmingham and other reputable establishments have demonstrated the importance of community factors within the neighbourhood. Recently the NHS has recognised loneliness as a legitimate public health problem, and it’s on the increase. The Issue of loneliness was perceived to be limited to elder populations, however published statistics demonstrate that increasing numbers of younger people are feeling isolated.

After registering with the site, you are then connected with people living within your area. This is just like any other social media platform, except it works on a local level, within your specific neighbourhood. You can do anything from; gifting free stuff (good for gardeners as a lot of plants have been exchanged), buying and selling, asking for advice or recommendations on local tradespeople, places to do/ source things, promoting local events, finding out who the local Avon lady is, and seeking advice on practical home matters.

Nextdoor2

One of the main differences between this and other social media sites is that this site is more about getting things done, as opposed to random acts of self-expression. Moderators are on hand to remove any post that is defamatory or inappropriate, rendering this a safe and supportive space to operate online. Unlike other apps, if you sign up to something new, your contact list isn’t imported and automatically available. If you know someone that lives nearby you need to invite them to join (if they aren’t already on the website). You can invite people by a direct invitation online, or you can have a postcard sent to them via the post, free of charge. The low-fi method of expanding the network is straight forwards and quite charming.

You can manage your privacy settings so that you can have a presence on the site without personal info such as; full address, phone number etc. being available for all to see. You can also choose to put a picture up if you fancy but this isn’t mandatory. All the other features of a regular social media site are available. There are; noticeboards for various areas of interest, a private message function, a notifications function and a categories tab in which communications can be assigned based on their topic.

Nextdoor3

I found that using this site, did actually lead to some productive real-life interactions. I met a gentleman that was gifting some free plants, and I went to meet him and his wife. I was expecting a quick pop in, pop out type scenario but instead I spent a good portion of the afternoon in their back-yard amassing as much gardening advice as I could. I have also used the site to shift some free stuff that I had to offer and also posted requests for advice on tradespeople.

One upcoming campaign is the “Share a Cuppa” campaign. This is aimed at encouraging neighbours and members of the local community to take the first step and go for a cup of tea with their neighbours. I for one will be taking part in this campaign once it is launched. I may even write about my experience here. Watch this space people!!!

The Nextdoor social media app is free of charge to use and is available at www.nextdoor.co.uk .There is also an app based version of the platform for Android and iPhone users which can be downloaded from the ‘Play Store’.

DB

Beeston Road Club continues Britain’s cycling craze

Since Britain’s cycling success at the Olympics, this countries perception of the sport has changed to an extent that it is now seen as fashionable.

BRC2

Local cycling clubs across the country have benefited from this current and rising trend, including Beeston Road Club.

The club was founded on Wollaton Park by a group of cyclists on VE day in 1945. Together they formed the Beeston Touring Club, which would then become Beeston Road Club.

One of Beeston Road Club’s most popular groups are its junior group and I managed to go and watch one of their sessions at Harvey Hadden, and speak to the main coach in charge, Louise O’Reilly.

“I’m the go ride lead who looks after the junior section of the club and I’m also one of the coaches along with Lisa Reddish and Adam Smith. We are all volunteers, I work in Lincoln for Active Lincolnshire, so my job is to try and get people more active, similarly to what I do here.”

“Around four years ago, we applied to be a part of British Cycling’s go ride club, which meant that we had to have to have several things in place, such as a safeguarding officer and coaches.”

We’ve cycled to Derby and back again staying in a youth hostel overnight

“Lots of parents had kids nearby who wanted to join, so we started taking in children from ten upwards and now we’ve gone down to eight. We go up to sixteen, after which they become a ‘youth’ where they then get entered into the youth leagues.”

“Coming down to Harvey Hadden in the summer is great, because it’s off road and we can work on lots of different race tactics, so some of them do little races, some do a breakaway and it just gets them used to riding in groups and practising things like cornering at speed whilst we can talk without there being traffic to worry about.”

The group have also been on cycling trips outside of their regular cycling sessions.

“We’ve cycled to Derby and back again staying in a youth hostel overnight, it was our first away trip. Some of the group also go on the velodrome along with other clubs every three or four weeks.”

Beeston Road Club, has cyclists who are there with ambitions to become a professional cyclist, but also those who just want to have fun.

“I really love cycling; my dad is really into it and we often cycle together but I see it as more of a hobby,” said Joe aged 14. “I learnt to cycle when I was three, I still remember the park in London where I learnt how to ride a bike! I started riding about two years ago.”

“Everyone has to have a way to exercise and cycling is my way. I also love the banter when I come here!”

Caitlin aged 10, finished sixth last year out of eighty other cyclists in the U-12 Notts & Derby Cycle Cross League. “I’ve been cycling for six years and I’m hoping to become a professional cyclist one day and race in the Olympics” she said.

To join Beeston Road Club, visit: www.britishcycling.org.uk/clubfinder and type in Beeston RC.

IS

Creative Beeston: Keep it Local

We have a number of excellent local independent stores in Beeston and, as a community newspaper, we want to encourage their use.

So, from time to time we’ll give you a little pen-portrait of a few of them, to remind you – or enlighten you. The first four are just a few metres from each other, in the ‘indie quarter’ on Chilwell Road: easily accessible by public transport or you can park in the pay-and-display areas (free for first hour) next to The Chequers or down by the Methodist church. Alternatively, turn down Imperial Road and look for spaces in the unrestricted areas.

The Guitar Spot

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106 Chilwell Road; open 10 am – 4 pm (except Sunday)

Several of our local shops are ‘specialist’ – can you guess what this one specializes in?! Jimmy has a good range of electric and acoustic guitars and is the only Nottingham dealer for Gordon Smith guitars. He is always happy for people to pop in for a chat and to try out a few instruments without obligation. Jimmy also has accessories like strings and cables plus amplifiers and a reasonable choice of ukuleles. In addition, he gives guitar lessons and plays in a local band, so he knows what he’s talking about! He can arrange amp and instrument repair too. Facebook page –https://www.facebook.com/The-Guitar-Spot-140096079349571/.

Beeston Bed Centre 

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57-59 Chilwell Road NG9 1EN – 0115 922 4633

We reckon you could just about furnish and carpet your house from local suppliers and not far from The Guitar Spot you can find a choice of things to sleep on at The Beeston Bed Centre! They have mattresses, bed frames and bedroom furniture all at discount prices. Their website is http://www.beestonbedcentre.co.uk/ where there is plenty of information, including a virtual tour; but obviously for something as personal as a bed you need to try, so why not pop in for a lie down?

Yarn

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55 Chilwell Road NG9 1EN – 0115 925 3606; open Tuesday – Saturday 10:00am – 4:00pm, (late night Thursdays til 7pm)

Specialist in all things to do with knitting: patterns, needles, buttons, accessories and, of course, the yarn & wool! They’ve been here more than ten years now and sell online from their excellent website – http://www.yarn-in-notts.co.uk/ (check their online shop) as well as to personal callers.  Check the website for details of classes and events – for example, you can learn to crochet with Yarn.

Local Not Global

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51 Chilwell Road – 07967 224105; open 9 am – 5 pm, Wednesday Saturday

Excellent little local deli-cum-cafe with, as the name suggests, lots of products sourced locally, such as honey, beer and sauces. You can find all sorts of bread and pastries and specialties in the way of biscuits, drinks, teas and coffees. Jo serves some of the best coffee, tea and snack-type meals e.g. breakfast and lunch or just afternoon tea/coffee and cake! You can either sit in or take-away. She also does outside catering. Well worth a look in for a nice gift or two!

 

You can’t beat local for knowledgeable and personal service.

The Business of Creating a Creative Business

That tongue twister is almost as tricky as that well-known dilemma that exists in the artistic world, that creative types are pretty poor when it comes to self-promotion.

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In fact many creatives would probably agree that they would rather hide themselves in their workshops than go out and promote their own work, because let’s face it that’s where they are generally happiest.

I am not suggesting that anyone who is creative is rubbish at business but if you ask any artist or maker I am sure most of them would say that promoting themselves is the bit they dread. I guess this explains why traditionally artists enlisted the service of agents to sell their work for them. For emerging creatives this has been more recently solved partially by the resurgence of craft fairs and handmade gift shops, which give them the chance to test the market for themselves.

There’s no colour in the business world

At Creative Beeston we like to provoke imagination and wonder in our little town and apart from writing a column for the Beestonian, running a facebook page and organising community craft events, we are also keen to work productively with local businesses to promote them. So it was with great interest that I met with an interesting lady, over a quality cup of tea in Rudyard’s, who is determined to make it her mission to break down these barriers. In her job as a telephone sales trainer, Trish Clay has been meeting a lot of creative bods who are desperate to get an artistic business off the ground but have no idea where to start. Inspired by their talent and their passion, she is fiercely keen to use her altruistic side to help these people fulfil some of their aspirations.

With her business brain and wealth of contacts Trish is in a great position to be able to signpost these people in the right direction but this desire runs deeper than a simple interest in helping a bunch of artists get their work sold. “There’s no colour in the business world”, she explained. This phrase rang in my attentive ears. There does appear to be a lack of appreciation for the value of genuine creativity in the business world, and yet there can be so many benefits to the overlap. I think about the art work I have seen in offices, sometimes clinically chosen to reflect the business and less often selected for its sheer magnificence. We have some fine examples of individually inspired interiors amongst some of our local independents. From Froth to Greenhood’s to Flying Goose Café and the Vintage Tearooms, no hot beverage experience will feel the same. This is down to a clever mix of intuitive décor and a certain ambience that the business owners have fashioned from their own creative minds.

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Middle Street Resource Centre is more of a community centre than a creative business but Lynda Lally facilitated the inclusion of artwork in their café space because she believes it promotes the well-being of their visitors. Trish mentions her father’s own struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and how a form of art therapy had almost certainly helped him to recover. I recall an article in the Independent recently about cancer Doctors who are using art therapy to cope with the emotional stress as a consequence of their work.  It goes significantly further than mere art appreciation for Trish. As a representative of The Beeston Network Group, she is desperate to try and encourage local businesses to open their minds up to creative crossovers and to encourage support for some of the more original ideas that are popping up all over Beeston. She expressed her frustration at the lack of publicity for some of these unique and often exciting events that have the potential to make our town stand out as a place that people would enjoy visiting. She is a fantastic advocate for our town.

The Beeston Network Group hold a meeting at Rudyard’s Tea rooms every third Tuesday in the month where Trish has a slot to pitch to the attendees what Beeston can offer them in support of their businesses, her aim to encourage those in the community who can work together for mutual benefit to network. She has six-years’ experience working within Broxtowe Borough Council, steering initiatives that link businesses with community, and has been collaborating closely with Liam from Rudyard’s on ideas to mesh creativity with business together. Local artists’ work is displayed on the walls and Liam has joined forces with other creatives to produce gift packs for the tea shop. It’s a dynamic partnership and Liam was pulled into the conversation a handful of times to refer to future ideas and his brand-new venture set to emerge this Autumn.

The Hive is a set of three units, in the centre of Beeston, which are currently being converted into flexible workspaces for creatives with favourable rents. It feels like everything’s connecting together, building on the artisan impression that was perhaps initiated by Arts United and then Chilwell’s Creative Corner. We have an abundance of workshop opportunities there and at Two Little Magpies to name a few, plus life drawing by the canal as featured in the last issue. And if that isn’t enough to bring you into Beeston town we have the Oxjam Takeover kicking off on October 14th!

DU

Beeston Station

Today Beeston Station is as busy as it was when it first opened in 1839. The station is still an important route into Beeston and the surrounding area for many local residents and visitors.

The station is a Grade II listed railway station on the Midland Main Line and is managed by East Midlands Trains. Being located 3.2 miles (5.1 km) south-west of Nottingham the station is also on an easy route to London only being 123 miles 22 chains (198.4 km) from the capital.

The station was built in 1839 for the Midland Counties Railway.  Services began on 4 June 1839. In 1844 the Midland Counties Railway joined with the North Midland Railway and the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway to form the Midland Railway. The original station was nothing more than a cottage and the growing population of Beeston needed a bigger station. In 1847 the original station was replaced with the substantially larger white brick building with ashlar trimmings which still exists. This is notable for its carved bargeboards, some remaining diagonal paned windows and the pseudo-heraldic shields with ‘MR’ and ‘1847’.

The growth of Beeston’s population in the Victorian and Edwardian periods led to substantial expansion of the station facilities. An extension containing a large booking hall, ladies’ waiting room and parcels office was added to the rear of the station building, doubling its floorspace. After the Second World War the level crossing, lattice footbridge and signal box survived until 1969 when Beeston and Stapleford Urban District Council built a road bridge (“Station Bridge”) across the railway. This was to ease traffic delays caused by the frequent closure of the level crossing. This effectively replaced the footbridge between the two platforms.

During the 1980’s with the decline of passengers using the station led to great neglect which resulted in vandalism and crime. In fact the station’s overall condition got that bad British Rail at the time proposed to completely demolish the station. However the station was saved after a local campaign was set up by the local civic society and local railway enthusiasts.  Their subsequent campaign led to the station being listed in 1987. This was followed by restoration of what remained of the 1847 building and the platform shelters. The original platform masonry survived until 2004 when the platforms were completely rebuilt. In recent years Beeston Station has seen a boost in passengers using the station and it continues to be used by local residents and visitors.

Jimmy Notts

Poodledoodle: Interview with Poodletrim

Since the relaunch of the ‘IamBeeston’ project a few months ago, I have now met over a hundred different people from all walks of life. All with different tales to tell about Beeston and what they think of our favourite little town…

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Besides asking people in the street, I am sometimes contacted directly through Facebook, by people who want to nominate individuals as subjects. One such person was Joanne Plumbley, who suggested that the owner of Poodletrim would be a great candidate for the project.

So I popped down to meet Louie Harrison at the place where dogs go for a haircut to find out more about her and what she thinks of Beeston. As the conversation went on, I realised that there was an interesting story being told here. One that needed to be developed into a feature for the magazine.

“I was born in Butterworth, a town in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, some 69 years ago. My mum was a white South African, whilst my dad was in the British Army. “We moved to Chilwell Village when I was three months old. But when I turned five or six, my mum returned to South Africa, leaving my dad Ray, who was now a joiner and me behind in Chilwell.”

Paul Smith used to use Louie’s Afghan hound in his advertising

The 1950s weren’t such liberal times as today, and single fathers hadn’t been invented, so her grandparents, who also lived in the area, brought her up. “When I was twelve years old, I started working as a Saturday girl at Poodletrim. It opened in 1958 by Elaine Drewery, in the same Victorian cottage, that was used as a shop that previously sold paint.”  The name Drewery might trigger something in the minds of fans of 1980s pop music, as on the 21st of September 1959, Elaine gave birth to a daughter called Corinne, who later became the lead singer in the band Swing Out Sister; whose most well known song is ‘Breakout’ from 1986, and which made number 4 in the UK charts. Incidentally, the promo video features the band messing about with textiles. This is a bit of an in-joke, as Corinne studied fashion design at St Martin’s College.

At age seventeen, Louie became the manager of Poodletrim, which is now certainly the oldest dog grooming place in Beeston, if not the East Midlands. Elaine Drewery and her family moved to Lincolnshire when Corinne was growing up. Elaine currently runs the hedgehog charity ‘Authorpe Hedgehog Care’. As the 1960s moved on, Louie got to know some famous locals like Paul Smith and Richard Beckinsale. In fact Paul Smith used to use Louie’s Afghan hound in his advertising, when he first set up the fashion label in 1970.

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Poodles have always been Louie’s favourite dog, and has had four in her life. Big Blues and Dark Greys. She remembers the fashion when people used to dye their poodle’s coat different colours. Sealyham terriers are a breed that was once popular. So too were fox terriers. Louie’s knowledge of dog breeds is extensive, which isn’t surprising, after dealing with them for nearly sixty years.

Disaster struck in the early 1990’s, when fire nearly burnt down the building.  “The fire didn’t stop me. I just got as much of my kit together as I could and moved to the shop at the front of the building, which is currently Square 17 hairdressers, and I was open for business a few days later.”

Louie hasn’t needed to advertise her business at all for over twenty five years, as she purely relies on repeat business from long standing customers and word of mouth. She currently employs two assistants, two Saturday girls and often takes people on for work experience, or students who are studying animal care.

Despite her health issues, Louie still works full time, and also helps to raise money for different charities. For her sixtieth birthday, Louie managed to close the road, which she lives on, set up a marquee, and threw a big birthday bash. I asked her what she has planned for her seventieth later this year. “I’m not sure yet. I’d really like to go on the Orient Express.”

CDF

 

A Parliament of Pride

One day, you might be out and about in Beeston’s pubs or cafes, and you might spot someone doing crochet. That someone is likely to be Frea Waninge, 30, who enjoys making little crochet owls with a difference…

I met Frea over tea and coffee, and it wasn’t long before she’d produced a bunch of multi-coloured crochet owls from her bag, and placed them on the table. This caught the attention of one of the baristas, who immediately said how cute they are.

However, these are not just any owls, they are pride owls. Frea uses a pattern that she found online by fellow crochet-lover Josephine Wu (a.k.a A Morning Cup of Jo Creations) but has adapted the colours of yarn she uses.

Frea bases her owls on the colours used for various pride flags which represent a range of different identities and sexualities. She has been doing crochet long before she began making the owls; she would make scarves, hats, and even phone covers for herself. One of her scarves was made using the colours representative of asexuality, as Frea identifies as ace. Once she discovered the owl pattern, she decided to use the yarn she had left from her ace scarf, and made an asexu-owl.

“I showed it to someone and they said ‘if you were to do more of them and sell them, I’d be happy to buy them’ so I started buying yarn and making lots of testers, and eventually put a couple of designs on Etsy,” she tells me.

Since then the owl family has grown to include a number of sexualities and identities including: bisexuowl, asexuowl, pansexuowl, arowlmantic (aromantic), polyamorous (polyamorowl?), agender owl, transgender owl, nonbinary owl, genderqueer owl, rainbowl, demisexuowl, graysexuowl.

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One of Frea’s main reasons behind creating these owls is because she knows how amazing it feels when you find something that represents you. “It’s like a code,” she says. “that’s why I was looking to include more obscure ones that people may not have heard of. The demi (demi-sexual) one is new and it’s not often included in stuff so to find something that represents them is really cool.” Soon, she will be adding a gender fluid owl and a lesbian owl, and she often gets requests from people to do owls for identities she hasn’t heard of.

“There’s so many that I don’t know about,” she reveals. “Someone contacted me asking if I do Feminamoric ones. If you say ‘I’m lesbian’ that only really works if you identify as a woman, if you’re non-binary and you love women, there’s not really a good term for it so they invented Feminamoric,” she explains. “That kind of language can be really helpful.”

She adds, “When people ask for another one I’ll try and accommodate that.” But she admits that she was faced with a dilemma when someone asked her to make a straight pride owl. “I said to them, well that would be taking the time that I could put into minority orientations…so no.”

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Frea works in admissions at the University of Nottingham and has recently completed a PhD in Linguistics at the uni, where she is also a member of the Gilbert & Sullivan society. She moved to the UK in 2011 from the Netherlands, and lived in Beeston for 5 years before moving to Dunkirk where she has been for a year. But it was Beeston’s friendly community that sparked Frea’s love for crochet up again, as she had originally learnt it from her mum as a child.

“I joined a church choir to meet people, because I knew nobody when I moved here, it was very awkward. So I joined the church choir here in Beeston St Johns, and people from there did Monday night knitting. Angie, one of the ladies from the church, helped me to learn to crochet and do a scarf. She gave me the needles and taught me how to do it, because I’d completely lost how it works.”

She started making the owls in April of this year, and sells them on Etsy at £4.50 per owl, and all the money from sales goes back into making more owls and buying yarn which she gets from the Beeston shop Yarn on Chilwell High Road. “Yarn is a lovely business and she’s really helpful and is always happy to order stuff in for me,” says Frea.

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Each owl used to take her about an hour to make, but she’s since got the timing down to half an hour to 45 minutes, and she does them in batches because it’s a lot faster. “It puts me at about £6 an hour if I was doing it all the time,” she says. “It’s not very expensive, and I know it’s good stuff, and I know I can always get it.”

In future, she wants to start making other animals to help fly the pride flag. “I really wanna do an Octopride! You can do the legs with different colours. I wanna do unicorns with different coloured hair that comes out, and bi-icorns and pan-icorns.”

I ask her if she’s ever considered having a stall at Nottinghamshire Pride, “I was considering doing it this year but obviously I’d need to make lots of them and that was just at a time when it was really busy because it’s pride time,” she says. “The plan this year is to make a load, regardless of how many of them sell or not, because it’s fun. And whatever is left at the end of the year I’ll bring to pride.”

She points out that crochet isn’t something she wants to make a career out of, it’s just for fun and is her way of helping to raise awareness and give people something cute to identify with.

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Our interview comes to a close with Frea saying “That one’s for you!” and handing me a bisexuowl, which I happily accept.

Frea’s owls are available at: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/prideandpunk

Like the Facebook page for more owl-y updates: @prideandpunk

Huda and the Harasser

This article was a collectively written piece by ESOL students in Beeston, and is based on a real event. Some names have been changed.

Huda would usually give Beeston ‘Ten out of ten: it’s a place I felt safe in and liked to call me home”. But a terrifying series of events changed that for a while.

Huda came to Beeston four years ago. Originally from Egypt, she settled here when her husband got the chance to study for a PhD at the nearby university “It is a place I felt good about raising my children” she says “I love the community events, and always try and be part of what’s going on. It’s a town full of things to be involved with”.

One morning, this was to change. She noticed an elderly man staring at her on the street. At first, she didn’t pay much attention to this: strange, but not that unusual. Yet when he appeared outside her house, and appear every time she was out, she started to get scared “It was not really a fear for me, but a fear for my children. I couldn’t understand why he was doing what he was doing, but he kept following me, kept standing outside my house. You don’t know if this person could have a gun or a knife, or if they could suddenly decide to do something drastic”.

The worry got to her. While her husband was sympathetic, she found it hard to convey how the stalker made her feel. Plus, the intensity of working on his doctorate made Huda reluctant to keep mentioning it: he had enough stress with the workload. Yet the effects were getting stronger: she found herself placing a pushchair across the door at night to delay anyone breaking in. She changed the route she took to and from school, turning a five-minute journey into a forty-minute one. She struggled to sleep. “It sounds crazy. I taught karate in Egypt – I’m a black belt – and he was an old man. But fear makes you irrational”. Her love for her adopted town fell away “It was no longer ten out of ten. It was zero out of ten. I felt scared, lonely and isolated”.

Huda found she was not alone in being stalked: other women had suffered the same thing in varying degrees. Talking to them made her feel less alone, and let her see that this could be dealt with.

After two months, she visited the police to report the staling, but it proved fruitless. While they were generally sympathetic, as the man had not spoken to her, or tried to physically attack her, there was little that they could do. Bereft and scared, she mentioned her troubles to a member of staff at her SureStart centre.

This got things moving. Huda found she was not alone in being stalked: other women had suffered the same thing in varying degrees. Talking to them made her feel less alone, and let her see that this could be dealt with. Her teacher at SureStart made some enquiries, eventually contacting the local PCSO, a friendly woman called Paula. Paula listened, and while she explained that the man was known to them, and mental health issues led him to act in such ways. While Paula assured her he was probably harmless, she still recognized the trauma he was subjecting Huda to.

The PCSO could act as a community officer rather than a straightforward police officer, heading off trouble before it became a criminal issue. This is a vital and effective service, as proved by Paula’s intervention. She visited the stalker.

This worked. The stalker saw the damage he was doing, and as suddenly as it began, it stopped. That’s not to say Huda was instantly ok: she now carries a personal alarm and has the number of the PCSO in her phone. But she does feel secure when out and about and is enjoying Beeston again “The help I got, and how effectively it was sorted was wonderful. There are some very kind people here. I’m back to giving Beeston ten out of ten!”

 

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