Each week, public affairs reporter Michael Wilkinson takes an alternative stroll down the corridors of power.
WHAT MONEY CAN’T BUY
No expense was spared on Monday as billionaire property developer John Whittaker waltzed into Gloucester Quays for lunch. He is the man behind the helm of Peel, the Quays’ owners, and he has a lot of cash to spend.
The firm has already invested £200million in its development here in the city and there’s a promise of just as much investment all over again.
That would secure the future redevelopment of the Peel Centre, which, let’s face it, looks like it is stuck in a time warp.
How much cash can he splash though to get the Bishop family to remove their vice-like grip on the ailing Bakers Quay site by selling it to Peel?
It might take some doing – there’s been promise after promise of action on the site, which occupies a prime waterfront location just a stone’s throw away from the swanky new cinema, but nothing has happened.
Squatters are now apparently occupying the site and it has been left to rack and ruin.
It is telling that the Bishop family aren’t for selling – well not at the current rates being offered. It wouldn’t take much for one to speculate that they are sitting on a nest egg that is only going to go up in value day by day.
We can only hope that they will one day soon relinquish their stronghold on the derelict site, cash in their millions and Peel can get on with developing the next phase of their leisure quarter.
GO HOME AT YOUR PERIL
When a 20-year-old gay woman is deported back to Uganda soon, a bleak future awaits her.
It is after all the gay hate capital of the universe.
Do you remember that powerful documentary ‘The World’s Worst Place To Be Gay?’ by BBC Radio 1 presenter Scott Mills? He travelled to the country, as a gay man himself, to discover all sorts of horrors that no one should have to go through.
Gloucester gay rights campaigner Andy Harley has some serious questions for Forest of Dean MP and immigration minister Mark Harper after reading about this Ugandan woman’s plight.
In his blog he asks: “News comes today that a young gay woman was deported to Kampala yesterday. She had applied for refuge in Britain after some ten years of sexual abuse and rape by her uncle after both her parents died when she was young.
“Her sexuality was discovered when she was 15 and this led to her living on the streets. She had a secret relationship with a married woman who got her a passport and an agent to take her to Britain in September 2010. She then applied for asylum to the Home Office. This application failed.
“We are talking here about Uganda - a country where it can be very dangerous to be a gay man or woman.
“When it comes to the Home Office, the buck stops at the desk of Theresa May, the Home Secretary – or a step down, there is also the desk of a Gloucestershire MP Mark Harper, who is the minister for immigration.
“So the question for either Harper or May is whether or not the appeal by this young woman actually reached them and if it did why did either of them endorse this deportation order?”
Immigration is a hot potato at the best of times, and more so now, but can we sleep at night knowing this woman might just have been given a death sentence with our stamp of approval on it?
She is just one woman, but there are questions to be answered and our local man Mark might be able to help answer them.