Sunday, July 4, 2010

Big Booze Versus Big Society Revisited

Found out on Friday that the Council have given the historic Corn Exchange to Wetherspoons. I have penned the following letter to the local paper which I fully expect not to be printed.

Dear Sir

Like the majority of Bury St Edmunds, my heart sank when I read about the Wetherspoons decision. What is most painful is that it was made for supposedly sound financial reasons. Yes, this will boost the coffers of St Edmundsbury Council by a few grand per annum, even after the pavements have been cleared of the evenings’ excesses. But it will cost other public bodies and the taxpayer a whole lot more: Suffolk County Council will be shelling out for extra policing; NHS Suffolk will be patching up the brawlers; the Ministry of Justice stumping up for court appearances, legal aid and so on. On top of this, there be empty shops where independent cafes and pubs once stood.

I travel widely and Bury’s `brand’ is fantastic with its charming streets, its Abbey Gardens and incredibly safe atmosphere. You mess with this at your peril. And you do not put down-market propositions like Wetherspoons bang in the middle of your offer. Image matters. Contrary to Councillor Mildmay-West I do do not believe a typical visitor to Bury rings Tourist Information ahead to check if we have a Wetherspoons. Can you imagine it - `No Wetherspoons? Never mind dear, we’ll have to go to Ipswich or Newmarket if we want to get fed and plastered for a fiver’… Sorry, Councillor, but your claims don’t ring true. By contrast, I think our typical visitors will go elsewhere when an air of boozed-up menace replaces Bury’s once peaceful, unique atmosphere. Another big mistake by a Council that has lost the plot. How many more can we afford?

Councillor Craig Dearden-Phillips
Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Hardwick Division


David Floyd said...

Fantastic stuff. Did Councillor Mildmay-West (whoever he or she may be) really suggest that people call Tourist Information to check if the place they're going has a Weatherspoons?

If so, that goes straight into my top ten of most implausible political justifications I've ever heard.

That said, Weatherspoons are a charmingly inclusive service provider.

Not many other outlets currently offer me a fairly tasty veggie sausages, chips and beans for £2.99.

martin cooper said...

Small minded cowardness. Very depressing.

Summed it up perfectly in your letter.

David Nettleton said...

It's Sara (prounounced 'Sarah') and it's Mildmay-White not West. Having known Mrs Mildmay-White for the 15 years she has been a Member of the borough council I can assure David Floyd that this was one of her more rational pronouncements; there have been some 'blinders' over the years.

However, outside of politics Sara is a fairly normal person and always willing to help anyone, as you might expect from a State Registered Nurse at the local hospital.