A VERY EXCLUSIVE CLUB
Despite the fact that I never thought it would be a success, you won't find me laughing about the probability of Gloucester's Car Club getting the chop. Like many of these well-meaning schemes, the idea is OK but it simply doesn't work in practice and in any case, £131,380 of taxpayers' money down the drain is no joke.
What I do find surprising is the way Gloucester City Council presumed that because similar schemes are successful in other cities, it would be popular here. The market research team must have been on holiday.
During the two years that it's been running, only 20 members of the public have signed up to the scheme and 11 of those have already left. In February this year, five people used it, while in March, six took advantage of it. I'd be interested to hear why those eleven chucked-in the towel. I mean, they must have thought it was worth signing up at one time, so what put them off?
Some of them may have been be deterred by the fact that, for a scheme which is supposed to be so attractive, it's not very convenient. The club cars are parked just a few minutes' walk from each other in specially marked bays in Spa Road, Weston Road, Worcester Street, Russell Street and Cromwell Street – the collection and drop-off points.
Fine if you live somewhere central, but when you're out in a suburb, it's a bit more difficult. If someone living in Brockworth wanted to visit a relative in Cheltenham, for example, they'd have come into town to collect the car, which isn't what I call handy. Wouldn't the cars have been more useful if they'd been spread out, in areas to the north, south, east and west of the city?
The main reason why people want to own a car is they can park it outside – or very near, their homes. It's all about being independent and having the freedom to go where you like, when you like. Few people want to book their local trips in advance and have to travel to the vehicle they'll be riding in, so it's no surprise to me they are not climbing over each other to become members of a car club.
We're told that around £175,052 was earmarked for the scheme when it was first introduced to Gloucester - meaning £43,672 would be left over should councillors decide to scrap it. Good, they can spend the surplus on repairing pot holes.
GO AHEAD, PUNK
It seems hard to believe that the 'punk rock' revolution took place more than 35 years ago, as the spiked-hair, safety pins through the nose and shirts made from black bin-liners are all so fresh in the memory.
Still, it's a fact that many of those who indulged in the anarchic fashion and music are now parents – some even grandparents –and just as bemused by current trends as their own parents were, back in the late 1970s.
Gloucester had its own successful punk band, Demob, who will be marking its 35th anniversary with a concert at The Guildhall on Saturday 15th June 2013.
Since forming in 1978, the band has gone from rehearsing in guitarist Terry Elcock's bedroom to gate-crashing the 1979 carnival parade, recording albums and embarking on world tours. Despite changes to the line-up over the years, they have retained many original fans and Terry says this concert is partly a 'thank you' to everyone who has supported Demob over the years.
WISE WORDS FROM THE DON
When I worked at Permali, on Bristol Road, many years ago, the MD was a chap called Don Fenner He worked his way up from the factory floor and was the sort of 'old school' manager who could roll up his sleeves and actually do the job.
Inevitably, when the giant BTR Corporation took over, Don was squeezed out and replaced with a 'college boy', but his leaving speech has stayed with me for more than 30 years. Don concluded by saying; "We must all be prepared to accept change. Something that was right for yesterday will not necessarily be right for tomorrow". To most blokes, that's a perfect description of marriage!
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
I don't know whether it was down to someone's ego or simply health 'n' safety gone mad, but whoever thought a six feet long section of cycle path in a place where it gets so little use that it's covered in brambles was worth taxpayers money, should be visiting the Jobcentre.