At the Gloucester Vision event last week we were exploring where Gloucester should be in 10 years time. Yesterday I visited @Bristol with my family and it was walking around the Millenium square and seeing some of the other bits that it hit me about just how blinkered I was being. Take @Bristol itself, it is a fantastic place to take the family of all ages and learn about various things like science and nature, but in a fun way that is engaging and hands on. It makes the most of the local influences at the city, such as Aardman animation, Airbus etc. Given what heritage and influence we have in Gloucester, such as a strong aeronautical history, the Roman roots, our docks etc. Given the problems we have had with funding for our more traditional museums such as the Waterways museum and the Folk Museum, I really think there could be something done to pool these together and create a really great place that given our background and diversity, it could easily be brilliant.
I visited Telford for the NCT AGM last year and while the mums were doing their serious bit, I was looking after the kids, and we went to the Telford Town Park. What made this special for me was that it has been put together in such a way that the different ages had a different scale of things to do and were segregated but in such a way that it is natural and parents can keep an eye easily. Also the variety of things being distributed around the park means that it was a nice place to walk around too, with easy stop offs to play. I think we have a really good start for something like this in Gloucester Park, but more could be done to add to it, and also link more of what we have already in a safe and enduring way. I think the basic steps of this could be done for minimal investment.
In my opinion, a blight on Gloucester is Kings Square. Recently we have had a number of half-hearted attempts to do something with it, but needs some serious attention. Going back to the millenium Square in Bristol, that is a great looking space with active water, lighting, integrated sculpture and the BBC big screen. In Carlisle, in the Lanes Shopping Centre, there is some Brass Otters in the centre, which Kids love sitting on and touching something very simple but interactive. When you consider that Kings Square is the first thing people see coming out of the Bus and Train Centre, its not the best first impression in the world.
In business terms, we are so well placed for national business, yet we are overlooked so much. Our links to Bristol, Swindon and the North by road and London by Rail and good. It is cheaper to live in Gloucester and we do have space to do things here. However I do not think we as a city market ourselves tot he people who could invest here. I do think we need to look at our Public Transport networks to be a real contender, such as being on the other rail line, and ensuring our bus network really works for commuting.
But all this requires cash and investment, so its a slightly chicken and egg situation, so this is where the Vision needs to identity our steps forward and we need to draw everyone in. We also need inspiration, looking at what other City’s, towns and villages have done that are a success and also what has not worked so well and LEARN from it, great improvements do not necessarily need to be whiz-bang expensive, just thinking in a different way.
What do you think? What have you seen that would work well and how could we implement the idea in a way that would suit Gloucester?