THE news in last week’s Dispatch that an opportunity was missed to apply for a grant towards improvements in the town centre is a damning indictment of local planning policies, procedures, organisations and individuals responsible for the future of Hucknall.
It is irrefutable evidence that no-one in authority is actively working on ways to improve the town on a continuous and consistent basis.
There is no plan B. All is encapsulated in the inner-bypass-cum-town-masterplan, a megalith costing tens of millions of pounds that Hucknall cannot afford, that the country cannot afford and which will not bring about the benefits it purports to.
What a pathetic excuse that sufficient time was not given in which a plan could be drawn up. Such plans should always be in the pipeline awaiting suitable funding opportunities.
How long do these people require? Bearing in mind that improvements to the town have been stymied for ten years, I would have thought that would have been quite long enough to think of some new ideas.
According to the Internet, the Hucknall Partnership Group brings together all statutory and voluntary-sector services for the benefit of Hucknall townsfolk. But exactly who comprises this group, what is its responsibilities and how does it relate to the Ashfield District Council planning department that issues the Local Plan? These are matters that I have never seen any explanation of, and I suspect very few people in Hucknall, including myself, have the faintest idea as to the answers.
Again, the position of town-centre manager appears to be one without a clear definition — or at least a definition not known to the general public.
If anyone was in a position to take advantage of the grants on offer, one would have assumed that our town-centre manager was that person. He should have been fully aware of the situation and in a position to trigger the required action quickly and efficiently. There can be no excuse that that was not the case.
One of the reasons given for the lack of activity was that Hucknall does not have a ‘town team’, whereas Sutton and Kirkby do. However it is the dissemination of responsibility among various groups, bodies and organisations that leads to a poor response and fuzzy thinking.
I fully agree with the Rev Stephen Ibbotson that development of the town needs to cover much more than business matters. However we need a small group of people co-ordinating this activity who have sufficient authority to get things done. I might have expected such a group to be embodied in the Ashfield planning organisation, but I can only repeat that who does what is a mystery.
Finally, I agree with Dispatch Letter-writer Chris Thorne that car-parking charges give the impression of an unwelcoming town, and I would like to point out that I have had Letters published in the Dispatch virtually every year since 2002 on this subject.
In February 2010, I quoted from an official policy document as follows: “Enhance the status of public transport in order to encourage a modal shift away from the private car” and concluded that an anti-car policy is in force as clear as daylight.
In addition, while the URBED report advocated extra car-parking facilities, none of the council’s proposals provide such amenities.