Monday, 8 February 2010

Temporary uses for the Arcade Site

Temporary ice rink on the Arcade site
Good effort or embarrassment?
Once again the Council massively under delivered. Luckily this winter came to rescue and provided us with a real ice rink, but that just highlighted what a farce the Council’s efforts were. The carousel on the site was so much better but even that could not lift the sense of abject failure that hangs over the site.

Let us remind ourselves of what we were told last July.
“On 25 July 2009 the Arcade site, at the junction of Hoe Street and High Street, was opened up to the public as a temporary events/ activity/ community space. The site was prepared with a hard surface to provide maximum flexibility for possible future interim uses. The 25 July also saw the beginning of a 6 week public consultation exercise which sought to capture the views of the local community as to what events/ activities/ uses they would like to see on this space over the next 18 months-2years.”

The consultation exercise involved a questionnaire, an independent survey and a discussion group with key stakeholders and residents. The resulting Report , published last October, identified a wide range of activities and preferences, which the Report broke down into 6 categories; Performance, Events, Art Projects, Markets, Retail and Sports. Enough material, you would have thought, to enable the Council to do more than erect a flea bitten ice rink.

It gets worse than that. An ice rink was a popular choice in the “Events” category, with kids especially keen on the idea. What they got was a disgrace. But what about the Art Exhibitions, Cinema, Music, Dance or even the idea of a Space for Small Businesses which were amongst the many ideas generated during the consultation?
There has been nothing from the Council since October. Except now it plans to charge campaigners for setting up stalls in the Town Square.

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