Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Morley Summit

I've been invited to a "Summit" next Friday, organised by the City Council Area Committee which gives me "a unique opportunity to contribute to creating a vision for Morley".

It is by invitation only, however anyone can ask to be sent an invitation so it isn't exclusive, just they don't want people turning up unannounced (probably for the catering). Details are at the updated Independents site here.

The new Town Centre Manager is involved and the panel includes our MP, Robert Finnigan, the Town Mayor and an unspecified traders representative, maybe Graham from Happysaks?

There is a keynote address from Doctor Rachel Unsworth from the University who is a highly regarded regeneration expert.

Now, driving home the other evening, I was listening to Thinking Allowed on radio 4 which was discussing regeneration in Liverpool. The sociologists made the moot point that planners generally don't succeed in regenerating places, people do. I also recalled an interesting article about planning failure in an area of Newcastle I knew well in my childhood via a Bradford Blogger.

Morley's problems are fairly typical of what is now a dormitory town- it is on the retail slippery slope to becoming cheap-shop/crap-shop and the leisure opportunities are at best unremarkable in the evenings, unless you like Brass Band Concerts, for which Morley Town Hall is well known in those circles . The town centre has a buzz on saturday mornings but that can't sustain businesses all week, all month, all year. It is remarkable that we don't have a £1 shop yet and Kwik Save pulled out a couple of years ago but at least we haven't made the Crap Towns website yet.

So, what can politicians do? Spend other people's money, of course, distorted by petty party politics, oneupmanship & partisan well meaning but misguided beliefs. The town centre new street furniture was a success in the mid 90s, the pedestrianisation wasn't. Morley peaked with private enterprise and philanthropic investment in the Civic stakes a Century ago, often by the wealthy mill owners vying to out-do each other. During the 20th Century We had a Theatre, a Music Hall, two Cinemas and a skating rink. Morley is bristling with former Chapels and Churches. Alas, there isn't the draw to make it vibrant once again and this is a reflection on Society and the Benefits culture we have foolishly voted ourselves into since the last World War.

So, what should be in a vision for Morley? Visions and Missions tend to be full of nonsensical claptrap that sounds good but doesn't mean much. Here are a few, your mileage may vary:-

'To allow the evolution of Ennerdale as a wild valley for the benefit of people, relying more on natural processes to shape its landscape and ecology'.

"Attractive, sustainable and enterprising are words, which describe a successful and caring community. Economic prosperity and a variety of jobs contributes to quality of life, equitable opportunities and a sustainable environment. The city is serviced by a transport system which provides choices both within its boundaries and the balance of the region.

This attractive city celebrates achievement through festivals and events. Its civic spaces, bridges and award winning water features, gardens and centres are venues for people to gather, admire and reflect on the growth and change whilst respecting a rich heritage and past. Ipswich’s national team champions use these streets as the stage to celebrate success. Residents feel safe and this caring city is sought by enterprises seeking a livability for employees and investment growth. Thoughtful provision of infrastructure and services and a culture of ‘on going achievement’ continues to attract investment and new residents." (A small extract from Ipswitch)

“ To shape a welcoming, safe, clean, well-managed and vibrant town
centre, and improve Warrington’s standing and competitiveness within the

"To create an interesting, dynamic, vibrant heart catering for all with a mix of modern uses, amenities and shops to scale appropriate to Exmouth's size, population and status. To maximise the town's advantages of its sea front, estuary side, and level town centre and to promote its environmental assets accordingly."

"We exist to enthusiastically leverage existing timely opportunities in order that we may quickly revolutionize performance based content

It is our job to completely coordinate cutting edge infrastructures to allow us to seamlessly administrate excellent paradigms while promoting personal citizen growth" (Dilbert Mission Generator)

“ For Worthing to be a thriving Borough where people want to live, work and invest”

I like the last one best!

No comments: