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Martin Kirby Column; Back To The Future, Seeds of Doubt and EU Don't Fool Me

By Moanagram  |  Posted: November 02, 2012

  • Visionary Kings Quarter

  • Pumpkin Alert

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A REAL CHANCE FOR CHANGE

Earlier this week, I attended a meeting organised by Gloucester City Council and the developer, Stanhope, to discuss the best way forward for the city centre, now that Stanhope has signed an agreement with the council for the King's Quarter development.

There is no doubt that it's a bold scheme and would remove many of the eyesores so often complained about by our readers, as well as yours truly. If everything goes to plan, the crumbling bus station will be just a bad memory and a smaller, more attractive King's Square will replace the grim skateboard park we have at the moment.

There's a lot to do before Bob the builder hands over the keys and there will be plenty of objections and stumbling blocks, as was evident on the night. As usually happens when any discussion is opened up to the audience, comments ranged from constructive to barking mad, so at least I wasn't bored.

What did impress me was the contribution by John Wood, a Partner in The Other Retail Group, which owns the Eastgate Shopping Centre. John made the point that the King's Quarter, important though it is, shouldn't be allowed to detract from the shopping facilities we already have and - most encouraging of all, that he is 'a big fan of markets' and wants the Eastgate Market to benefit when the Eastgate centre undergoes its own upgrade.

But Mr Wood faced howls of protest when he announced that, among other big names coming to the Eastgate, Tesco would be taking the former J J B store, at the Southgate Street entrance. A Tesco may not be ideal, but I'm convinced that an empty shell with piles of junk mail inside dirty glass doors is unlikely to encourage shoppers into the centre. Whereas a bright, busy store at the doorway will. There was also a commitment from Shelagh Larard, Asset manager of Aviva, that something will definitely be done with that damned Golden Egg building.

Parking was another issue raised and it had the tree-botherers up in arms, but the fact is people want to drive as close to the shops as possible. If we can't have cheap parking, it must at least be safe, clean and accessible.

If we get this scheme right, Gloucester could become the city it should always have been.

OH GROW UP!

My six year old granddaughter wanted to plant a pumpkin seed, so granddad duly obliged with a small pot and compost. Ten minutes later, she insisted on going outside to see if it had grown. Although it was a waste of time, granddad duly obliged. Ten minutes later……well, you get the picture. It's going to be a long year.

EU WON'T CONVINCE ME.

A small number of people have taken me to task over my anti-EU rant last week, but I'm unrepentant. One contributor informed me of something the EU has apparently done for us, saying; "we can be confident that water is safe to drink or wash in, wherever we travel within the EU". Ah, so that's where some of our money goes – paying for other countries to improve their water supplies, while UK water companies refuse to repair leaks and issue hosepipe bans almost every summer. Another pointed out that the Cornwall Council website gives details of available EU grants. Great if you live in Cornwall, but not much to get excited about in Coney Hill! The fact remains that we pay far more into the EU every year then we get back in any form of subsidy or grant. Any business that has annual outgoings greater than its annual income will soon be bankrupt, yet we are supposed to be grateful for being in this club for the terminally-deluded. On a different Euro note – years ago, I wrote of my belief that (then) Prime Minister, Tony Blair, wouldn't be happy until he was President of the United States of Europe. Now the idea of an elected president for Europe has actually been put forward - by Tony Blair. God help us.

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  • Glos_Lad34  |  November 03 2012, 11:20AM

    I hope we do get new and improved shops here in Gloucester and more people will come to Gloucester then we wouldn't be 10th in the Relocation Relocation poll would we.

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  • SandraPee  |  November 03 2012, 11:02AM

    justjude. So, I take it you're in agreement with the current EU proposal to slap 20% vat on new build houses then ?

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  • justbecause  |  November 03 2012, 6:11AM

    Tesco in the old JJB is a great score for the city. It will act as what is called an "anchor tenant", pulling other quality retailers into the city centre. Look how much London Road has improved since Tesco started trading from the old Welsh Harp. That part of the city was dirty and full of druggies and wineos hanging around, now I see the whole parade has brightened up with people going about every day positive business, and I understand the shops around there have increased their trade. Its going to be the same success story when Sainsburys open at the old India House site in Barton St. Gloucester needs large companies to bring investment, look at the railway triangle clean up that has just taken place - if a big name were not behind that then the site wouldn't physically, progress, why? Because you need very very deep pockets to progress dirty contaminated sites like that with huge infrastructure costs. All this big name bashing is counter productive.

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  • justjude  |  November 03 2012, 1:27AM

    Unfortunately , I assume Mr Kirby was one of those barking mad at the kings quarter development meeting, Mr Kirby has a village idiot simplistic view of life, usually underlined by cheap simplistic shots . As a proud Liverpudlian I was against us ever joining the EEC, I knew it would be to the detriment of my city and cities on the west of Britain. However, once the majority were persuaded by the Conservative Government to join ( the only opposition of any note came from Tony Benn and the left wing of the labour party), yes many tories who voted for it never bothered to read the Treaty of Rome. But once we joined to mould Europe in our own interests we needed to engage fully, we have many natural friends in Europe. Unfortunately due to the likes of Kirby, in Europe we have adopted a Kruschev Nietsche position which has isolated and marginalised Britain. If Europe is to prosper we do need a European president with Gravitas to face the economic competition of China , India, Russia and Brazil. Unfortunately internal European bickering has led to weak leadership. We either need to be fully in and play a full role in Europe and yes Blair and Brown having important jobs would be in Britain's best interest or we need to get out of Europe, but Mr Cameron/Osborne don't support this because they at least, unlike Mr Kirby have a grasp of the macroeconomics, which cannot be explained in a 1000 word rant, yes to leave Europe would be an unmitigated economic disaster, but Mr Kirby would accept no responsibility if this happened he would rant about his next hobby horse.

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  • Dave_t10  |  November 03 2012, 12:29AM

    Can't we have some more pound shops please, and they really is a need for some more charity shops - would prefer than in the old JJB than a Tesco. On the other note - EU We get £1 back for every £3 we put in, yes that means if we got out of the foresaken hole that is the EU we could invest THREE times as much in the British economy without spending a penny more than we are currently. I think that rather than those stupid signs that EU part funded projects have to be put up - they should say. "£3 for for every £1 granted to this project by the EU went straight to the EU coffers, never to be spent in Britain again". Drinking water safe in the whole of the EU? Don't make me laugh! Drink two glasses in Spain or Greece and your holiday will soon be over - no better than 20 years ago!

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