Monday, 26 January 2015

Beeston Filmfest and life in the election trenches

Given the success of last weekend's Beeston Film Festival, I suspect next year's could be a red carpet affair with monitors announcing the next film and glam at every turn, somewhere to be seen. OK, I jest, but these things do happen. The truth is Film Festival organisers John Currie and Jamie Hall pitched the weekend to perfection. The White Lion was the perfect venue in every sense. The upstairs room where the films were shown may have seen better days, but it had the feel of an old 6d (sixpenny) cinema from the fifties (I am that old).

Next year I will be inviting my friend Alex from Edinburgh to come and stay for a long weekend so we can cruise the Film 
Festival together. Alex grew up in Beeston and returned as an adult for a few years before taking herself off to where she was born in 2013. She is into films and I know she would have so loved it.

They say a picture can speak a thousand words, so here goes…

I took this photograph of Mags, a Trent Uni student living in Beeston, as we both grabbed a bite to eat. Both of us chose Sergio's Fish Stew. It was truly wonderful and I will be going back for more very soon. The painting behind Mags is one of a number for sale at the White Lion. It is entitled 'Paris Café' by Dawn Booth, a local artist, and can be yours for £400. I wonder if the person who eventually buys it will take away some of the wonderful food aromas which fill the White Lion, captured by the painting?

My own fish stew was a picture, as I hope the photograph below proves, and I spent some time looking at it, before finally eating it as slowly as I could. All this for £5!

Throughout the day there were moments like this; people talking. On this occasion about horror films and I was pleased to learn that I was not the only person who did not watch them. I went to the first documentary session, then the family films and the comedy films session. The films generated a real mix of emotions and I will certainly be going again next year.

The person standing up is Sergio, the White Lion landlord. I have blogged about him on my parkviews blog (which has been replaced by this blog). In October 2013, I did a blog post entitled 'Cake too good to leave' and here is a pic from that post showing Sergio with cake in hand.

Somehow I have got this far without mentioning 'Beestonia', the movie made by Matt Goold and his colleagues. It opened the Festival and was fun, well produced and a great advert for Beeston. Matt tells me it will be posted to YouTube in the near future, so everyone can see it.

During one of the breaks I got chatting with Jacky Walker and Geoff Francis, who were at the film festival supporting a 5 minute film called 'Thank You Stan' about the great Stanley Matthews. Both have been involved for the last fifteen years raising support and finance for a animated film about his life. You can find out much more at their website:

It was, at times, spine tingling. The chance to talk with them and share their enthusiasm and determination for a few brief minutes made going to the Filmfest worth while. Below is an image of 'Stan' from their website.

I ended my week playing the part of a foot soldier in the election campaign, delivering letters and seeing front doors close up. How I hate low level letter boxes. Posties have to contend with them every day. If I had my time all over again I would form my own political party and call it the Marginal Party and, guess what, letter boxes would be high up its list of priorities, together with 101 other tiny annoying issues. I'll stop now, I see a separate blog post coming on about the little things in Beeston which need attention and would improve the quality of our daily lives no end.

Above is an example of a letter box I do not like and below is the perfect letter box — both found today as I was out delivering for the Labour Party.

This week I hope to receive some answers from Broxtowe Borough Council to questions I had asked about houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and comparative voter numbers in the four Beeston wards in 2011 and 2015. If I do then this will be the focus of my next blog post.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

My favourite Beeston deli — a reprise of sorts

Another post so quick, but this is actually taken from my old Lenton based Parkviews blog, which I ended on moving to Beeston in November. It dates from October 2014 and I stand by every word.

Before another word, please follow this link and vote for Beeston's very own  Local not Global Deli in the national Farm Shop & Deli Awards 2015 (NOTE. Voting has closed and the results will be announced in a few months).

Yesterday morning (Thursday) I took myself off early to Beeston and walked down to Chilwell Road, which has been in the news almost daily since work began on The Tram. 'Nearly complete' the Nottingham Post says today. I don't think so.

My destination was the Local not Global Deli, which I have blogged about beforeand is my favourite coffee shop and eatery. It's seven weeks since I was last there, but with no writing class John White and I decided to meet up, as old men do, and talk about our work over cake and coffee for a couple of hours before Susan came to join me for lunch. In the end it turned out to be a most perfect three-and-a-half hours. I will let my photographs tell the story.

10.30am when I arrived and Jo Thomson, the owner, had been hard at work since 6.30am. She does all her own baking and cooking. Cakes to die for, and more about the best small lunch ever in a bit (well it does have one rival, but since the competition is in Derby, I won't mention it). I should have photographed the large slice of poppy seed cake I had with the first of three cups of coffee (believe me it was goood, really gooood!). 

Local not Global was empty when I arrived, so I took this pic. Within minutes, with John first, a steady stream of customers came in and out. Once it emptied right down to John and me again. Chairs were moved about and folk squeezed around tables, elbows touching, eating cake and lunches. It really is that kind of place. I love its atmosphere and everyone loves Jo. When Susan and I left at 2pm, it was empty again. Not for long I'm sure.

From my table I had these view straight down Imperial Road, one of Beeston's finest roads, and once upon time Nottingham City Transport buses terminated here, then waited for passengers to carry back to town. In the late-sixties, Susan would have been one of them. Her first two years at Nottingham University were spent sharing a room in the Chilwell vicarage just a few minutes walk away. This was where Bartonland began and, as if to mark their claim, Barton Transport had their HQ and a large garage just yards to the left. Today the Barton family no longer own the bus company, but they have created the popular Barton Gallery close by.

 John, like me, is someone who chose to make his home nearby. Family ties pull many of us to places and I am sure the fact that Beeston and Chilwell are parts of the large Greater Nottingham metropolitan conurbation make this easier than it would be in some small inward looking town or village.

I have been visiting Beeston and Chilwell Road regularly since the mid-1990s when our shopping habits changed and we began using the Caritas Clinic over Manor Pharmacy, plus the exodus of friends began from Lenton into Beeston and Chilwell. We hope to follow, after nearly six months of prolonged waiting, by the end of October (there, I have said it, but friends have heard all this before, as other moving dates have come and gone. This time though, I really hope it's true).

I enjoy John's company and he is a great poet, who can get verses to rhyme, and I am helping him to compile a collection of his work for friends and family, but he does deserve a wider audience, so here are a couple of his short poems to whet your appetite:

From Toton down to Chilwell
Through Beeston on to city
They're digging holes and laying pipes
Without remorse or pity
Drivers and their passengers
In buses, cars and vans
Sit fuming in their vehicles
Stuck in traffic jams
Two more years of chaos
And when the workers win their battle
We'll enjoy the doubtful privilege
Of travelling like cattle
Herded on at park and ride
With seating for the few
Standing for the many
Who pay the trams their due
It will never make a profit
And is bound to end in tears
When ratepayers have to cough up
To cover the arrears.

As we grow older, our parents grow wiser

Grandparents turn positive sages

It's been ever thus since Adam and Eve

And carried on down through the ages

It really is amazing, without any fuss
How much the old folk learn from us.


When John left, he took with him one of Jo's apple pies. Never leaves without one if he gets the chance. Next time I will have apple pie too.

Now for the lunch I was telling you about (vegetarians look away now). Just look and lick your lips. There is no better Pork Goulash in the land.

This is me, almost a year to the day, eating Jo's goulash. I weighed 14 stone then and with Markiza, our cat having died a few days before, we had just decided to put our house up for sale. It took six weeks cleaning top to bottom before we put it was first advertised, and it was Easter before we got a buyer. It's been a long slow process and very stressful, with the result that I have put 20lbs on since Susan took this photograph. I want to be 14 stone again by the time I'm 71, so I have 34 weeks to do it in!

This final photograph of Jo is bit of a cheat. I took it in 2013 when I posted a blog about Beeston cafés and teashops, but nothing has changed. Whilst not intended as a boast, I do think this blog shows that I am generous soul, true to my belief that we should have the chance to enjoy the best of life, so how could I not share the Localnot global Deli and Jo on Chilwell Road with you?

Finally, if you ignored me the first time, Please don't do it twice. Before another word. Just follow this link and vote for Jo's Local not Global Deli in the national Farm Shop & Deli Awards 2015.

See Creative Corner and you have arrived

The view a good many of us  have of the Mish Mash Gallery is from a Indigo or Y5 bus, or a car, and that is as close as we get, yet if we are coming to towards Beeston this is the marker we are likely to use to tell us that we have, for all intents and purposes, arrived in Beeston. My first Pubs and Cafés map from 2013 never quite got this far, but I knew of it and thought it was further out of Beeston than it actually is. It was not until last Friday that I realised it was on the corner of the High Road with Cator Lane.

If your usual bus is a 18/20 or a 36, this is the view you will see of Chiwell's Creative Corner:

Inside Mish Mash is stylish and welcoming. This is just one view. During my visit two artists came in with folios and I bought a lovely little hare brooch. Altogether I spent an enjoyable fifteen minutes browsing before a rumbling tummy started pulling me the direction of the Fusion Café next door.

From the quick view I had, I thought it was going to be small, but once through the door there is a surprise in store, it opens out to the right behind the Mish Mash Gallery Tardis like. I was welcomed by the delicious smell of black coffee and a food cabinet full of treats, where a quiche caught my eye.

I was waiting at the counter, my black Americano being made, when a man burst in through the café's front door, took one look at me, and said 'Are you the map man' and before I could reply added 'I've emailed you this morning. I've seen your map'.

Now it was my turn. 'I know' I said 'It doesn't include the Creative Corner or the Fusion Café, but by Monday it will I promise' (and for once, I was as good as my word. I am afraid that all too often my enthusiasm runs away with me).

The man then introduced himself as 'A-J' and we ended up chatting for nearly two hours and were joined for a while by Garry Thomas, who founded Mish Mash and the Creative Corner with his wife Gail. At the end of our chat, we were setting up a Creative Corner writers group and A-J was creating a logo as we talked. His enthusiasm was infectious and I enjoyed his bubbly company.

And here I caught A-J in the act, with Garry beside him. It was all so unexpected and I eventually left in no doubt that this is how they are with everyone. As for Ceative Corner Writers? See the end of this post.
I left Fusion with another piece of knowledge: coffee is grown in Thailand and tastes even better than it smells. Undoubtedly the best coffee I have ever had in Beeston and A-J even does real tea in a pot. The quiche was yummy like creamy custard and came with a small salad on the side.

I didn't take any interior photographs because a few minutes after I arrived some mums with toddlers and babies arrived, all clearly at home — always a good sign — and one corner was full of guitars. A-J told me he runs guitar and drum classes. A older couple came in and the man could not resist picking up one of the guitars and began to play, telling A-J he had played a guitar for forty years. Hearing about the guitar classes he asked for details and said he would go along. 

I said my goodbyes and made my way next door to Created By Hand, selling craft goods and ceramics, plus cards and jewellery. I was welcomed by a lady who introduced herself as Hazel, the wife of the gallery's proprietor, David Humphreys, who works with glass.

  This is just one view of inside Created By Hand — I don't want to take away the fun of discovering more for yourselves. Now there is a good chance that if you are a local reading this blog post none of what I have been enthusing about will come as news, but if Beeston is normally off your radar, then this is a good example of what you are missing.

Chilwell's Creative Corner is also home to the Greenfingers Florist, who relocated from the shops opposite, after being closed for a few months because of the loss of passing customers when tram construction work began.

There is also a small gallery called Attik, which was closed at the time of my visit, and above Mish Mash is Tranquility, offering 'holistic therapies'.

The sad thing is that despite how tram construction work has impacted on Creative Corner and the shops opposite, they are outside the 'Beeston BID' area (BID stands for 'Business Improvement District). Make no mistake, this is where my Beeston now begins or ends depending on which way I am travelling and the good news is that my Beeston Pubs and Cafes Map now includes A-J's Fusion Café and Creative Corner.

There can be few better days out than a perambulation from here to the east end of Beeston High Road where it ends at Humber Road. Good cafés, galleries and craft shops, waiting to be enjoyed and explored. The buses may not have brought visitors to Beeston in droves, but The Tram should. I am forever telling friends and other folk that buses come out of Nottingham as well as into it and it was Matt Goold, he of The Beestonian free magazine and blog, who I first heard talk about pulling Nottingham University's main campus into Beeston. This inspired me to extend a version of my map to include the campus and QMC. I also added Rylands and Beeston Marina (you can find the latest version under Pages in the column to the right and Matt has kindly re-produced it in the latest issue of The Beestonian).

I will end with a plus for the Creative Corner Writers Group, which will have its first get together in March. In the meantime, if you would like to know more or to help in any way, just contact me.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Beeston's 'Flying Dutchman Bus' and embracing the Creative Corner

Before I begin the journey I made on Friday, a footnote of sorts to last week's post. My new driving licence arrived on Thursday, so I went into Broxtowe Borough Council offices during my travels to prove that I am me. Hopefully, I will get a letter soon confirming that I now am a registered voter.

I have asked the Borough's Electoral Office for information about registered voters in the four Beeston wards by streets and the number of households, together with the same data for 2011. This will enable me to compare voter nos. by Beeston streets. I will tell you my findings in a few weeks, assuming I am given the data I have requested.

Now back to Friday, when I took myself off on a bus journey around Beeston, Toton, Stapleford and Sandiacre before reaching Long Eaton. The bus in question was a no.17 and not a single person I have asked knows about it and I have asked a good few over the past few weeks, so what am I talking about?

Well, it's this old fella…

This is the 17 arriving at my bus stop on Wollaton Road on Friday morning just after 10.20am — right on time, having started its journey in Beeston Fields (Dennis Avenue).

It was empty as my photograph shows apart from me and the driver and this is how it stayed all the way to Chilwell Retail Park, where to two other oldies joined me. The bus stopped just twelve times whilst seven other passengers got on and off between Toton and Sandiacre. For the run into Long Eaton I again had the bus to myself. I picked up a timetable on the bus:

This map is inside it (to enlarge, just click on the map):

At my bus-stop on Wollaton Road towards Beeston there was a timetable, but the route no.17 does not appear on the bus-stop itself, and this is the case for most of the route. At a good few stops no timetable is displayed. Taken together all these explain why this little red bus has been winging its way around Beeston empty most of the time like a Flying Dutchman Bus, although I have seen a few passengers on board coming up the hill out of Beeston towards Dennis Avenue, 

The 17 is a commercial bus route operated since 2 December 2014 by Nottingham Coaches, but their website contains no easy to access information about the service — which operates from 9.20am–2.20pm Monday–Friday hourly (start times from Dennis Avenue and Long Eaton Asda). The timetable leaflet says that 'When the new tram routes start running in 2015, our buses will pull into the new tra stop park & ride site to provide (passengers) with fast access to Nottingham City Centre'.

Premiere Buses, who folded a year or so ago, operated a no.17 bus route along part of the same route, so I suspect that the fact that Nottingham Coach chose to number their route '17' is no coincidence.

Given how little publicity there has been and the restricted service I just hope the 17 is still running come mid-summer when The Tram is due to start. The bus was old, noisy and rattled. Given the high quality buses of the local rival bus companies, they will have to up their game if their 17 bus route is to survive. I wish them well. I also suspect that Trent-Barton will be introducing their own Tram feeder bus routes when The Tram finally starts running.

Having said all this, it was an interesting journey 'around the houses' so to speak. Most of the other passengers knew one another and it had all the makings of a route like Nottingham City Council's Linkbus service L10, which I have become a regular user of after years of travelling of the 36, Y36 and Indigo.

The L10 really is a friendly bus and also goes 'around the houses' and I love the little section from Beeston along Derby Road, when it is heading to towards the Victoria Centre in the direction of Derby! I grew up in Wembley using bus routes like this (namely the 16, 46 and 55) and wrote about the 28 in Birmingham back in the early-1970s (the 28 used to head south out of Birmingham City Centre before turning east, then heading north to Kingstanding on the northern edge of the city).

I photographed this L10 in Beeston Bus Station at the beginning of its journey to the Victoria Centre. The bus has seen better days and will, I believe, be replaced by new electric buses before too long, when Nottingham City Council start operating the service instead of Nottingham City Transport (hence the signs about EasyRider tickets no longer being valid on Linkbus routes from 1 March 2015).

My fascination with buses began as a child and as a local historian of sorts I have long been interested in the role buses (and trams) have played in the development of our towns and cities over the last one hundred years and more.

As often is the case, I digress, so it's back to my Friday day out. When I got off the 17 at Long Eaton I caught a Indigo back towards Chilwell with a view to visiting the Mish Mash Gallery. I had a vague idea of where it was, having passed it many times over recent years, but on my many walks around Beeston I never got further than Park Road to visit friends.

Seeing the time, an account of my eventful visit will have to wait until Wednesday, so please come back and learn more about Chilwell's 'Creative Corner'. I have done one thing already: updated my Beeston Pubs & Cafes Map to include its location. See the Pages section in the column to the right of this post.

Much more than it looks… a Tardis of the Arts.
To learn more return Thursday…

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Civic optimism, a bandstand and proving I'm me after 50 years if I want a keep my vote

Beeston Civic Society members embrace optimism

Like Nick Palmer (to name drop), I went to the Beeston Civic Society meeting on Friday and came away pleasantly surprised by how positive the occasion had been, given the hundred or so present were, for the most part, oldies like me. It had been my intention to write a few words, but I will redirect you to Nick's blog instead at:

The meeting was about the next five years and one of the suggestions made was that consideration should be given to re-locating the Bandstand presently located in Dovecote Lane Recreation Ground in The Square, so I went in search of an image to remind folk of what the bandstand looks like and found this photograph by Roger Templeman.

You can see this photograph and more on the Geograph website at: See also:

This led to a short discussion about whether a 21st century bandstand type structure might be more in keeping with The Square once its makeover was complete. I rather like the idea of a public space where live music can be performed, but for Beestonians and visitors to enjoy the experience fully I suspect such a facility should have pubs and cafés where people and sit and listen. Unfortunately, The Square does not offer that beyond the new Costa coffe bar, although Birds and The Last Post are within sight.

One aspect of Beeston town centre which went unmentioned was its pubs and cafés. As a newcomer, I am convinced that this is an area which offers great potential when it comes to attracting visitors.

Proving I'm me after 50 years if I want to keep my vote

On moving to Beeston in November 2014 one of the first things Susan (my wife) and I did was register to vote, so we filled in the new online forms which now want your National Insurance No. and date of birth as well as your address, Enough personal information to by any measure, given that you do not, as far as I know, have to de-register your vote when moving (especially when a good few people, especially young voters, register at two addresses in different parts of the UK).

We believe voting is very important and that, ideally, it is something we should do in person at a polling station. Postal votes should not be so easy to obtain, as they are open to abuse by candidates and their agents (this abuse is well documented). 'e-votes' are also suspect.

I first registered to vote in 1965 when I was 21, by which time I had been politically active for six years as a Young Socialist. In the years since I have been a councillor for thirteen years and a election agent on more occasions than I can remember, so it came as a surprise yesterday to learn that before I can vote in May 2015 I will have to prove who I say I am — a question I have never been asked once during the fifty years I have registered to vote!

The letter dated 8 January 2015 from Ruth Hyde OBE, Returning Officer/Electoral Registration Officer for Broxtowe Borough Council says 'I have not been able to process your application because I have not been able to confirm your identity' and goes onto explain why this may be the case.

In other words my NI No., which I have had since 1959 and my date of birth must be suspect in some way, which I find worrying. Is someone else out there using my identity?

The letter from Ms Hyde is perfectly reasonable as one would expect from a ERO. In my considerable experience over nearly fifty years (Harrow, Birmingham, Mansfield and Nottingham, now Broxtowe) EROs have been unfailingly helpful and I am sure that this letter is prompted by the new 2014 voter registration system, which means we have to register as individuals and not via annual property/household returns.

The old system, for the most part, worked. There were problems which living in Lenton, with its large number of student residents, one could not help but be aware of. The old system did allow names to be added up until days before an election (once, in earlier times, this was not the case) and I am in no doubt that the new system, which has caught me in its net, was designed to make registering to vote harder and that this was a politically motivated decision by the Tories and their Liberal partners in the Coalition Government.

As it happens I should have a new driving licence in the next week or so with my new address and a photograph of me, so I can take this to the Council offices in Beeston to prove my identity after fifty years!

If you do not have a passport or a modern driving licence which includes a photograph then proving who you are becomes much more difficult. These extra checks remind me of the criminal checks procedure now in place for volunteers and there will be people who will have difficulty proving who they are.

The homepage on Broxtowe Borough Council's website does not show any box/direct link to 'Registering to vote'. I found a link at: by typing 'voter registration' into the search box on the homepage.

Nor does the page on 'Individual Voter Registration' prepare you for the fact that you might be further asked to prove your identity, especially when your application now has to include you National Insurance No.

I am sure this failure is an oversight on the part of Broxtowe Borough Council and now that I am drawing their attention to the problem they will be adding a 'Registering to vote' box/direct link to their homepage in the next few days.

The Coalition Government might not want individuals to register, but I cannot believe this applies to Broxtowe Borough Council.

I suspect that there will be would-be voters receiving the letter I received yesterday who will simply do nothing. I wonder how many letters have been sent out like the one I received and how many have yet to complete the voter registration process?

One thing I am sure of is that Cameron and Clegg will not take my vote from me, despite their best efforts to make the process difficult. After 50 years of being a registered voter this is what democracy has come to — me having to prove who I am despite being born, educated and working in England all my 70 years.

They may already be a 'Your right to vote' campaign/group in Beeston. One thing is sure I will be drawing attention to my experience so as to encourage everyone to register as a voter and not to be deterred if they get a letter like the one I received yesterday!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Beeston muffins and why the proposed N2CA is a nonsense

Christmas and the New Year take over one's life in unexpected and pleasing ways. A friend from my Young Socialist days in Wembley over fifty years ago joined us after buying an uninhabitable house in Gainsborough at auction and a new neighbour invited us to a party on Christmas Eve.

Then there is cooking with a gas oven for the first time in forty years and managing great with the chicken and gammon, but the Christmas bun-loaf took two attempts. The second tasted great but was not pretty to look at, so it was sliced and frozen in the hope that no one noticed its imperfections.

My first Beeston muffins on the other hand, made a couple of days ago, were a success, made with the help of a frying pan.

Moving house became a pre-occupation for thirteen months and now moving into a new home brings a whole set of other things to do, which we will be lucky to finish by the end of 2015. Being ill for over a fortnight delayed things and now Susan is about to embark on laying out The Nottinghamshire Historian, which will take the next couple of weeks. As we have only one computer which will link to the wi-fi and Internet, this blog will have to be posted in bits.

Having done my old Parkviews blog for seven years I know how they acquire a life of their own and so it is already with Beeston week. An email last night from a younger friend, who has also moved to Beeston, opined that 'full-time work does take up a ridiculous amount of time'. As my grandfather used to say 'If work was such a good thing the rich would keep it all for themselves'. There are always chores and other tasks to provide excuses for not doing what it is you really want to do.

As for my reference to 'nonsense' in the title of this post, I am referring to the proposed  'Nottinghamshire Combined Authority' and the published 'Summary of Governance Review and proposals for a combined authority, which I downloaded from the Broxtowe Borough Council Homepage. You have until 6 February to post comments on what is being described as a 'consultation'.

I have been an advocate of a Greater Nottingham City Council since my days as a Nottinghamshire county councillor (1981–1985) and, until a few years ago, urban parish councils. Now I would argue for 'mini-mayors' instead, but this is an argument for another day. No one with an ounce of civic, community or political sense can support the existence of local authorities like Broxtowe and Gedling. They are artificial constructs which make no sense geographically. Again an argument for another day.

The proposed  Nottinghamshire Combined Authority (CA) is a bit like Broxtowe and Gedling — it is a nonsense and reading the five page summary shows why.
Reference in the para 1.2 refers to Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, West Yorkshire and the North East and goes on to say in para 1.4 that 'Although a CA would effectively be a new body (it will) be funded through existing budgets — at no additional cost to the public purse'. Er, excuse me, am I missing something here. The money has to come from somewhere, so logic says that existing budgets elsewhere will have to be reduced in size. One assumes Broxtowe and the other councils have identified where these savings will be made, so why not tell us as part of the consultation?

A later para, 5.3, says 'the CA need support from a small executive function'. How small is 'small'? I suspect that the member councils will also appoint their own CA liaison teams and where will their funding come from? Perhaps the 'small executive function' is coded Summary speak telling us the CA will be run by a directly elected mayor. The price Greater Manchester has paid for its money-rich CA is a mayor and logic says that the same will apply to proposed CA, but no mention of this appears in the Summary published by Nottinghamshire's local authorities.

It seems that the proposed CA will be known as the 'N2CA' (N2 standing for 'Nottingham and Nottinghamshire'). There is a body called 'D2N2' already in existence. It is the name of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) already covering Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and Erewash Council in Derbyshire is already a member of a number of Greater Nottingham bodies, so the links between the counties are well established and I have long argued for a public transport authority covering the Derby–Nottingham conurbation (which could also be described as 'Trentbartonland' (a name invented by a local well known bus company).

Para 4.2 of the summary refers to the 'shared strength in manufacturing industries but with clear differences in the focus and strengths of manufacturing industries'. It is a nonsense sentence and reveals just how muddle-headed the political thinking behind N2CA is. Para 4.3 is no better and is too long for me to type in here. Just read it for yourselves. By no stretch of the imagination is N2 a 'central location'. Nottingham Station is of little importance when compared to Derby Station'.

The D2N2 LEP will continue to exist and in bold print says the new N2CA will 'Maintain the current Joint Committee Arrangements'. Yet another argument which supports a CA covering the two counties, especially the Derby-Nottingham conurbation.

Para 5.4 says that all the existing local authorities in Nottinghamshire will continue to exist and their 'powers will be exercised by the CA on a concurrent basis ie. no powers have been 'ceded' to the CA from its members' (the City Council, County Council and district councils).

The paragraph goes onto list 'the powers' and the next para, 5.6, says there will be 'operating protocols agreed locally by the CA and the nine constituent councils'. In other words, local council leaders want to get their hands on extra Government money whilst telling themselves and us (the electorate) that nothing has really changed and there will be no extra costs involved.

But the final sentence of the final para (5.7) of the Summary document is the killer and tells why the proposed N2CA is a nonsense as presently proposed. It reads:

'The Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CA will also act as the Accountable Body for N2 funds and investments. It is recognised that this will need to be carefully co-ordinated with Derby City and Derbyshire to ensure consistency and efficiency across the D2N2 LEP area (which will continue to exist) and this will be done through joint arrangements to enable agility in decision making across the LEP area that is not a characteristic of the present arrangements'.

Really? How will this work when all the powers the new N2CA will possess are 'concurrent' with those already in the control of the constituent local authority members? 

As I say a 'nonsense' document about a nonsense proposal which reveals just how parochial the council leaders involved in this proposal are. There may be some council leaders willing to cede power and willing to support the creation of a 'super' local authority. What makes Greater Manchester different to Nottinghamshire is the fact that the former is a urban conurbation, whilst only part of our county is. Labour leaders in the urban areas do not want to risk their areas being run by rural and suburban Tories.

Kay Cutts, the former Conservative Leader of Notts Council was on regional BBC-TV today saying that she thought Nottinghamshire should have three councils at most. To achieve this there will need to be some kind of local government re-organisation in the county and it is a long overdue discussion. The last re-organisation was in 1974 and it was failure by any measure (I will come back in a future blog to why I support a single council for the Nottingham conurbation).

To conclude I am of the view that in the rush to create the proposed N2CA local politicians are putting the cart before the horse. I say let's look at local authority boundaries in the East Midlands first, then go for enhanced powers. Out of this should come fewer councils and, I hope, a willingness to recognise that we need a joint Derby-Nottingham conurbation authority of some kind — which we could call 'Trentbartonland'!

I am a great believer in 'following the buses' — they go where people who use buses want to go and, as a local historian of sorts, I have long been fascinated by how the growth of cities has happened in conjunction with their hinterland of neighbouring towns and villages and how buses have played an important role in the growth of our present-day conurbations. Trentbartonland is a good example of this.

Personally, I think a 'twin city' CA centred on the Derby and Nottingham makes much more sense and can build on the existing local enterprise partnership and chamber of commerce. Back in the 1960s East Midlands councils jointly created East Midlands Airport and in the 1980s I chaired the Airport. A long time ago, but the dynamics of power have not changed — hence to reluctance of local political and civic leaders to put the wellbeing of our sub-region before narrow, parochial, political interests.

I really support the idea of a combined authority, but not this nonsense N2CA one!