Gloucester starts fighting back….time to Believe?

Published On March 20, 2012 » 826 Views» Gloucester, Politics
Barbican Road Heading towards the docks. North...

Barbican Road Heading towards the docks. North Warehouse, home to Gloucester City Council, is in the centre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading yesterdays paper (at about 11pm when I had finally finished my day) I was rather buoyed up to see detailed a “fighting fund” from the City Council to make the Gloucester City Centre more attractive and welcoming.  We have finally realised that we lose so much custom to Cheltenham, Bristol and Worcester and a lot of that is down to the users experience of their visit to our city.  Finally we will see some improvements to the “brutal” (to use the Citizens term) architecture and appearance.  Will the populace be able to “Believe in Gloucester”?

The city council has produced a list of 12 items of what they want to tackle, and I agree with almost all of it.  However I do hope that the list is not in order of priority and that it is only the start of a progressive regeneration, using finance as and when it becomes available to sort out more and more of the City areas.

The list is as follows (with my comments in Blue):

1. Cheaper car parking – lower tariffs have already been introduced at 11 council-owned sites

Essential to make our City Centre accessible – I would hope that the lower prices already introduced are only the beginning

2. New lighting, markings and flooring at King’s Walk, Longsmith Street and Station Road car parks

A good idea, though not necessarily a high priority until September/October time?

3. Extend the business grant scheme – at the moment new traders can ask for £3,000 towards their first year’s rent to open up in Gloucester; cash grants are now likely to be increased

A great idea, SME’s are essential to sustain the City Centre, however would like to see Business Support alongside the grant (maybe a compulsory interview with Gloucester Works) to encourage long-term viability.

4. A new campaign called ‘Shop Gloucester’ – this will be an advertising campaign to encourage people to shop here

As long as this is also pushed outside Gloucester, then that’s good.

5. City Museum upgrade – the glass displays on the second floor will be replaced

Yes, good, but perhaps a lower priority int he short-term.  I think the City Museum is great, but perhaps look for commercial funding/sponsorship?

6. New Tourist Information Centre – the current “rather small and cramped” facility in Southgate Street will be closed down, with staff looking at relocating to a “more central” unit

Good news, though unless your taking over a shop right on the cross, I wonder where would be more central.  (Maybe it will take over the tacky cheap shop right on the corner)

7. Better Christmas lights and decorations – they will also be in place for longer to increase the feel-good factor during December

PLace them for longer, absolutely, though I don;t think replacing the lights yet is necessary, but adding to them would be good.

8. Better lighting in the city centre – focus on the gate streets

Yes and No, yes to better lighting, but the gate streets are not where the action is in the evening, first priority should be where the Pubs are (more the tail end of the gate streets, rather than the cross).

9. New cladding on “brutal” old city centre buildings – this could include public art, and will done under negotiation with the owners

Very good idea, especially if it embraces the culture and heritage of Gloucester.

10. New mirror at the Eastgate Viewing Chamber – this will be a “large street mirror” allowing shoppers to peer down into it

Not entirely sure what this is and how it would work, so will await more information.

11. Signs and street banners pointing out points of interest – a fund will be created for this, aiming to highlight anything from a historic cafe to an upcoming city event

Yes, however think about approaching businesses to sponsor the signs, take away some of the burden off the tax payer and use the opportunity to engage with the business owners.

12. New paving in the gate streets – this will focus on improving the appearance of a “prestige” area

Is this a real priority?  I would review what happened in Southgate Street and while it looks brilliant, the disruption was very high, must learn from this and have an intelligent plan for implementation.

Personally I think the moves the City Council are making to really showcase the City are very encouraging, we need to do this to make the city an economic success and while it is a careful balance, we need to engage and support local businesses, which in turn will see more cash flow into the city which generates better tax revenues which allows a greater standard of services and amenities.  And this is a great step.

It seems that the City Council are practicing what they are preaching, “Believe in Gloucester”- If this is the beginning, then the next few years will be fantastic.

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