West Bridgford

Why are we so against change?

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It seems that whatever we try to do in this country to ‘move forward’ we always come up against people who are ‘anti’. At the larger end of the scale it might be HS2 or wind farms off the coast, at the local level it could be new development – and this is the drive behind this blog….

Screen-Shot-2014-05-31-at-19.06.44-1024x457I live in West Bridgford, it is a very pleasant suburb of Nottingham and has been voted (as part of Rushcliffe) as one of the more desirable places to live in the UK – all good news so far. It also has a very busy and successful retail area based around Central Avenue. This area has seen significant changes in the last few years, a number of restaurants and bars have opened and it is now somewhere that attracts out of area dinners and drinkers. This is positive in my view as it brings money into the town.

There is however an element of the local (and not so local?) population who are quite vocal about not wanting change, this manifested itself most vocally a few years ago when M&S were looking to open in the town. Much was said against them, but they got planning and are now a well used and dare I say it popular addition (even from those anti initially?) to the town.

Moving forward a few years to today we have the issue of the two new retail units behind the Halifax on Central Avenue – a piece of almost invisible land which added nothing to the area, but was next to the croquet green (as the area of grass between Central Avenue and the car-park is known). The planning application for this has just been approved (quite rightly in my view). But it has caused huge bad feeling and comment – particularly from those who love the farmers market that uses the croquet lawn a couple of times a month.

All I would say to those opposed to the development is think long term, the market could move on and is in real terms a minor addition to the life of the town centre. Traders who take a formal lease on a shop unit are committing long term to the town and have a vested interest in its success. Yes, we potentially have an issue over tenant mix in the town (as most towns do) with too many charity shops and numerous coffee shops and the like. But who causes the demand for these operators? The market as a whole, in effect those who are against the development in the first place!

Perhaps it is time for the country as a whole to have a good hard look at itself and accept that we cause the changes in the market – so we can’t (and shouldn’t) complain when development occurs, especially when it is small and local as in the case of this one. Time to deal with our ‘not in my back yard’ issues……

A brilliant new building….

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We have been without a library in West Bridgford for some time – the old one was closed to allow for a refurbishment and extension to be done. There was a temporary library in some first floor offices which was a good effort, but was rather like a large cupboard by comparison to the old library!

20130325-122754.jpgHowever the new building has now opened (actually over a week ago) and I had a visit this last weekend. My initial impression is of a light and spacious library with the feel of a book shop more than a traditional library. This is not a criticism – it works, the space is very inviting and relaxed – it is very busy as well! It is so good to go to a public library and literally find it full of all ages and frankly buzzing with activity.

The building we have ended up with is a scaled down version of the original proposal that got ‘canned’ due to the cuts. If the result we see today is anything to go by that would have been amazing!

So credit where credit is due – the County Council have done a first class job here. Well worth a visit if you are local to it.

There are still some decent people out there…..

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20130316-104912.jpgIt is great once in a while to have your faith in human nature confirmed, we do live in what seems to be an increasingly uncaring society, so an act of kindness is great to see. The reason for my comment?

Last week my son lost his wallet, he didn’t actually realise this until Friday (he is 15 so doesn’t carry it all the time) when he was about to go into town to meet some friends. A brief but frantic search ensued, but it was soon apparent that it had been lost. Phone calls followed to the bank to cancel his debit card, Nottingham City Transport to cancel his bus pass etc – you get the idea. He was also rather cross as he had left rather a lot of cash in the wallet (despite various warnings to remove it!)

So all in all, a bad start to the weekend! But, due to the act of a very kind gent who found the wallet and delivered it to Lloyds Bank in West Bridgford, who then rang us to report the delivery to them (the card was from Lloyds) he got it all back!

The wallet was delivered to Lloyds because the finder was not ‘confident’ that the Police would be the best place to take it – a rather damning indictment of our boys in blue…..

I wonder what percentage of people finding the wallet would have acted in the same way, unfortunately I believe we fell very lucky.

The Queen of the East Midlands

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In real terms I am a relative newcomer to Nottingham and the East Midlands – I arrived in 1980 as a student and have never left. Nottingham has always been described as ‘The Queen of the East Midlands’ in my time here, and I would have to agree – it is a great city (and stands above its neighbours in my opinion).

In recent years the young pretenders (Derby and Leicester) have done their best to catch up and pass Nottingham – new shopping centres and general improvements have helped. Nottingham has also managed to shoot itself in the foot by totally missing the boat on the Broadmarsh redevelopment. The damage this has done to our city cannot be underestimated and in time the main culprits will become known and will most likely pay for their lack of action.

So it is great to see in this last week that Nottingham, not Derby or Leicester has the most ‘desirable’ residential street in the East Midlands. The attractiveness of the street is based on average value, it is still a long way behind top UK values, but is a sign that Nottingham is still the place to live in the East Midlands!

The street in question is Valley Road in West Bridgford – average values over the period January 2007 and October 2011were £810,000 the figure is lower than last year when the average home in the street was priced at £823,000. The figures come from a Lloyds TSB report that reveals the most expensive streets in the UK. Perhaps unsurprisingly the 40 most expensive streets are all in London and the south east, with Egerton Crescent in Kensington and Chelsea taking first position with an average house costing almost 10 times the East Midlands level at £8.14 million!

How not to run a restaurant

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As most people I receive the weekly deluge of ‘deal’ emails from restaurants and the like. This seems to be the norm nowadays, particularly with the chains such as Pizza Express…

20121006-174657.jpgI have been to the West Bridgford Pizza Express on a number of occasions, normally booking via the iPhone app (sad I know, but so easy). However this weekend when I tried to book this way I had left it too late and had to phone – you remember the phone, it’s the thing we all used to use to book tables before the Internet took over!

I expected this to be a fairly simple matter, a quick call and a confirmation yes or no as to the availability of a table – or that is what one would expect – but no! The recorded message told me no one was available to take my call BUT – and this is the good bit – I couldn’t leave a message! I was asked to ring back later!

Well after around 6 attempts I gave up, rang other restaurants who all answered almost instantly and eventually got a table elsewhere.

I assume Pizza Express are busy and don’t need or want my custom – it would be nice to know which? Until I find out I won’t be bothering them again!

We actually ended up at a much nicer restaurant due to this – so perhaps I should be grateful for Pizza Express’s lack of interest!

Sainsbury’s – good for West Bridgford?

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Last night Rushcliffe Borough Council approved in principle Sainsbury’s planning application for their new store on Wilford Lane. To be honest there was little doubt that it would be approved – sadly that is the way of things. However, will it actually benefit anyone other than Sainsbury’s?

I am not a fan of the supermarkets, I believe they have a lot to answer for – and have certainly helped our high streets to the sad state that they are now in. My home town of Malmesbury is currently a few months behind West Bridgford in this process – I can only hope that it doesn’t go the same way.

Sainsbury’s have stated that they believe the store will give more choice to West Bridgford shoppers (which it will), but it must have a negative effect on the town centre shops, so how can it be good for the town? Their official line?;

Sainsbury’s predicts the supermarket will benefit the economy and “complement” the smaller shops 1.25 miles (2km) away in the centre of West Bridgford.

West Bridgford is a very healthy suburb from a retailing point of view at the moment. Rents are strong and vacancies are minimal. Morrisons and Asda cover the town on either side and M&S simply food in the centre works well. Sainsbury’s just doesn’t sit well in this – especially when the Castle Marina store is less than 2 miles away as the crow flies!

So no, I don’t agree with the decision and hope that the Secretary of State kicks it out – sadly I don’t hold out much hope of this though!

Yet another award for Edwalton Primary School!

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20120709-212755.jpgIt appears that awards are coming thick and fast for Edwalton Primary school – I have blogged previously about this amazing school (I am biased as I am a Governor there) and its green credentials. Well that has now been confirmed by a national award.

The school has been awarded ‘outstanding sustainable school’ in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) awards for 2012. This is a national award and is a fantastic achievement for the school, it is due recognition for the hard work that everyone at the school has put into driving forwards the sustainability agenda, from the kids, through the staff and finally to Brian Owens the headmaster who is the inspiration and driving force behind everyone. We were nominated in 2011 but sadly didn’t win – but this year has seen the ‘right’ decision.

Brian receiving the award

Keep an eye out for this school, this is the way education should be going at primary level in the UK, other schools can (and are) learning a lot from its environment and general approach to teaching.

Fantastic news and another good reason to shout from the rooftops about Edwalton Primary West Bridgfords number one primary school!

Good bags v bad bags

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This is not going to be one of those self-righteous blogs about how we use too many free bags from supermarkets (although perhaps it should be).

Sainsbury's - rubbish!

No, this is grumpy blog from someone who hates Sainsbury’s vegetable bags! They are without doubt one of the hardest things to both remove from their ‘holder’ (a cardboard box if it hasn’t broken) and then open for use known to man!

My wife now grabs a handful and opens them so that I don’t ‘strop’ about them – although I do normally manage a little moan! No doubt Sainsbury’s would claim they are cheap – really, you amaze me!

Coop - brilliant!

Recently I dropped into our larger Coop in West Bridgford for some veg on the way home from work. The ease of obtaining and opening their bags was a revelation!

The bags come on a roll (clever) and fit into a proper dispenser (not a cheap cardboard box). Most importantly the dispenser has a device (a bit of plastic actually) that allows the bags to be ripped off easily – this also helps to open them.

Yes, they are probably more costly, but they show a level of customer care that is perhaps missing in some other stores?

Come on Sainsbury’s – get your act together or I am off to my local Coop!