Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Beeston Fields Pocket News comes to Central Avenue

Well, sooner than I thought, I have the first copies of my very own Beeston Fields Pocket News in four of the shops on Central Avenue in Beeston Fields. I am printing 100 copies to see how it goes, but the initial response has been good.

I was asked "Is this the size?" and I have to agree it is different. A sheet of A5 landscape paper folded in half to create a four sided A6 newsletter. Below is the front and back pages of Beeston Fields Pocket News No.1. In the middle (pages 2–3) is my Beeston Fields map (see my last post).

It is, in some ways, a take on my Beeston map which will be 5 years old this year. The catchline 'Open here to activate' will be familar. With the space I have I can't say much, but I have created it to be easily readable and, I hope, fun. The next issue, which I hope will be in June, will have a local history feel to it.

Right now enjoy this exclusive look at pocket news Beeston Fields style...

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Beeston’s forgotten Fields Estate

Click on the map to enlarge.

I am in no doubt that the Beeston Fields (Garden City) Council Estate is the poor relation of Beeston, almost forgotten between three main roads and the town's centre.

To to its east, on either side of Woodside Road is Nottingham City Council's Lenton Abbey Council Estate, also a 'garden city estate' dating from the 1920s. The two estates are barely distinguishable, the housing looks the same unless you look closely. Parts of the estate has a real 'arts and crafts' feel about it. At a first glance these house are the same as houses on the Lenton Abbey estate but there are differences. I will add a picture from the Lenton Abbey side in a couple of days and then you can look for the differences without any help from me.

For the records the boundary between the Nottingham and Broxtowe councils is Tottlebrook, long gone and now culverted beneath Woodside Road but once open for all going along Brook Road to see and evidence of this fact still exists for those who care to look close enough:

This is where Tottlebrook passes under Brook Road, which almost certainly takes its name from Tottlebrook. Not a trace of the brook remains, no signs mark that is a boundary point between two councils. I took the picture looking east towards Woodside Road. The houses in the background are on Woodside Road, part of the Lenton Abbey estate, in Nottingham.

I live on the Beeston Fields estate, albeit a detached corner built on infill land left isolated by the fact that Central Avenue should have originally been between the Derby and Wollaton roads, but the Wollaton Road Allotments were in the way and fought off the building of the road. This is a story, if already told has been lost. It is clearly part of local memory because I have heard variations of the same story several times.

I am a regular visitor to the parade of shops on Central Avenue, where its small sub-post office is open every day as it the relatively new DoughMother bakery. A good few of the shops have been in business for a very long time and all are occupied although not all open at the same time.

I also deliver for the Labour Party and, with elections coming up, there is more to do than usual and, somehow, I spot things which have previously gone unnoticed by me, such as the remains of the Brook Road / Tottlebrook bridge. Another thing was this pink littler bin at the junction of the Boundary and Brook roads.

Below is a view of the triangular open space which is part of Abbey Court. I suspect that 'Abbey' reference relates to Lenton Abbey, then probably the house and not the council estate which is separated from Beeston Fields by Tottlebrook. Something to research at sme point.

I chose the word 'forgotten' to describe the Beeston Fields estate because of this public noticeboard in front of the Central Avenue shops at the Dennis Avenue end. It is as good as empty and which I take as a measure of the interest shown by the estate's present councillors. Knowing the two Labour Party candidates for Beeston North ward (which includes Beeston Fields), Jennifer Birkett and Javed Iqbal, as I do this notice board won't be empty for long once they become our councillors.

Anyone who reads The Beestonian, the town's free alternative street magazine, may have read about DoughMother which I have got in the habit of visiting most weeks. Click here for link to Beestonian story.

Here is a picture from inside DoughMother with its owners, Alican (2nd left) and Houlia (3rd Left) and Labour's Jennifer Birkett and Javed Iqbal. The welcome is always warm and friendly and there are a number of tables where you can sit and eat.

The leek pasties I take home to eat on their own or with a small cous cous salad of small tomatos, peppers, peas and celery, with beetroot on the side (I usually eat a chocolate brownie in DoughMother with a lovely cup of black coffee. I hold a bite size piece of the brownie in my mouth and let it melt as the coffee washes over it — never have two things ever been so made from one another if exclude your true loves).

And whilst I'm talking about food I should mention Cob Central at the south end of the Central Avenue shopping parade, where the owner, Michelle, has been doing café fare since just before Christmas. I call in whenever we fancy a bacon cob. Michelle is always generous and at £1.50 for a large cob she offers the best value I know. She also does lunchtime meals like egg/sausage/beans/chips in a range of combinations. I took this pic of Michelle on my last visit and those are our bacon cobs she is holding!

I have written about Beeston Fields Recreation Ground before and make no apology for doing so again. I feel passionate about green spaces like this and pocket parks, and can trace my love of them back to my childhood. For 35 years we lived in a house overlooking Lenton Recreation Ground in Nottingham, also with a bowling green. It helped me lose 6 stone because it had a footpath all the way around it and that is the only thing missing from this lovely neighbourhood park — a path which goes all the way around. My Beeston Fields spider map at the beginning of this post marks the 'missing footpath'.

This is where we need to path, along the west, north and east edges of the park. At a distant it looks perfect...

..but close up you can see why we need a path. The grass has gone in places and if the ground is anything but dry it sticks to your shoes. Once the election is over and we have elected Jennifer and Javed as our new Beeston North ward councillors I plan to work with them to help establish a Beeston Fields Recreation Ground Friends / Support Group open to all park users.

Finally a reminder that at the south end of Central Avenue there is a modern health centre and a pharmacy. The house numbers at this end of Central Avenue provide tangible evidence that the avenue's southern end was not intended to be here.

I will return to Beeston Fields again before very long when my map has been incorporated into a postcard promoting the shops on Central Avenue.

Finally, an insight into how Broxtowe Borough Council regard Beeston Fields. They see its greens as a dumping ground for repair equipment and the like and we are all polite that we let them. A few weeks ago Wollaton Crescent was one of the Council's chosen dumping grounds. The company invloved did knock on our doors and told us what they were doing and full credit to them for that but as nice as they are the damage to the grass will take a long time to disappear...

...whilst on Dennis Avenue right now there is yet more equipment. I admit to not having an answer to the problem in the absence of residents being pro-active themselves and turning these garden city green spaces into mini-meadows or some other kind of communal space.

All this has prompted me to think about publishing my own Beeston Fields newsletter of sorts. Watch this space...

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Broxtowe Borough Council elections. 1973–2019 What do they tell us?

Click on table to enlarge. 

Labour has only only won outright control of Broxtowe Borough Council twice (in 1995 and 1999). The Conservatives have won outright control 7 times and there have been 3 elections where no party has won outright control.

The Liberals did not have any councillors prior to 1987 but if their aim was to achieve a balance of power rather than outright control then they have been more successful than Labour.

The 1983 elections were muddied by the presence of SDP candidates who split the left vote to the advantage of the conservatives (their most councillors ever — 38).

The 2019 election on 2 May may see the intervention of candidates standing as 'Independents' supporting Anna Soubry and the breakaway 'Tiggies' (The Independent Group) and it would be foolhardy to try and predict the outcome of such a intervention.

Logic says Anna Soubry needs to create a grassroots organisation across the constituency if she wants to hold onto her seat for more than one general election. When better to road test it than in May’s borough elections.

We can all play around with statistics, but something special will have to happen in the next six weeks for Labour to take control of Broxtowe Borough Council. Perhaps, just perhaps, Anna Soubry fielding candidates might just split the Conservative vote enough for Labour to win — but this is assuming no Labour voters are tempted to vote Tiggy if they get the opportunity.

In the meantime all Labour can do is to motivate its supporters to vote whilst not making a lot of noise in the process. Ideally, Labour wants Conservative and Liberal supporters to fall asleep on 1st May and not wake up until 3rd May!

Council Tax exempt student housing in Beeston map now showing numbers

The earlier map just showed locations and not how many properties at that location as defined by the postcode. These are overwhelmingly in Beeston.

I have now entered a number in the postcode pin on the map and entered an explanation on the map itself. The map is a good guide and I make no other claim for it. Six months from now the number will have increased as private landlords buy up more houses in Beeston to let to students, given the continuing restrictions in Nottingham. My aim over the last few years has been to demonstrate that you can map what is happening. At 70 I stopped doing committees and at 75 in a few weeks time I will let others worry about Beeston as I move onto more personal interests. I will help if asked but my self-volunteering days are really coming to an end after 60 years!

I do not doubt for one moment that the Lentonisation of Beeston continues apace. 

I also believe Broxtowe Borough Council should work closely with students and other young people needing housing in the Borough to develop innovative housing schemes, which the young tenants would co-manage with others, ideally funding by a levy on landlords equal in value to any council tax exemptions they receive for existing properties. This money could be used to help secure funding to build housing in partnership with students and other young people. The way the present council tax exemption system works just means extra unearned income for landlords. Decent homes for all trump landlord profits.

Click on the map to enlarge:

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Mapping Council Tax Exempt student property in the Broxtowe Borough Counccil area

The six maps below have been created using data listing 567 properties I received from Broxtowe Borough Council today. I will add comparative data in a few days.

If I can create these maps (and the earlier Beeston HMO Map below) with my very limited I.T. skills then it should be easy enough for others to do it better than me. For now I publish my maps without comment (click on a map to enlarge):

At best the data has to be taken as a guide and needs more attention than I can presently give it. Compare the map of Beeston council tax exemption properties above with the map of Beeston HMOs below. Broadgate (pin showing 10) and Low Road (pin showing 14) in particular. This may a case of where multiple entries for the same postcode do not show up on the council tax exempt map — in other words my council tax exempt property map for Beeston should have more 'pins' than it does.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Vote Labour, vote Curtis Howard today*

Okay this post does come with a asterisk (*) because to vote for Curtis Howard, our 19 year old grandson, today you will have to be a registered voter in the Aberystwyth North ward of Aberystwyth Town Council.

We wish him well. He'll be pleased to come second. Until now it has been a safe Plaid Cymru seat and uncontested by the Labour Party in last year's Town Council elections. Curtis and his friends in the Labour Students group at Aberystwyth University are running the campaign.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Beeston Transport spider map updated

My Beeston public transport map has its own page and link in the right-hand column. I have just updated it and have plans to add a collection of inset maps to highlight other locations in more detail like the two inset maps already included for Beeston town centre and Nottingham city centre. The only question is how such an enlarge map can be published? 

Click on the map to enlarge:

What do Women have to say when it comes local bus services?

A really interesting interview in The Verge with Caroline Criade Perez, who has written a book called Invisible Women – Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.  I wonder how much attention bus planners give to the views of women when it come to planning local bus routes? With a tram or train you have no real choice — they go where they go but bus routes can be tweaked in so many ways, and what she says about women using buses at night really struck a chord. Even older folk like me disappear from buses at night.

I have copied the question and answer from the interview:

What type of change is necessary to get rid of this data bias on a large scale? Do you have any numbers on how expensive these types of changes would be? 
Essentially, what needs to be done as a first step is to collect the data because without the data, it’s impossible to know what is needed and how much it’s going to cost. For a lot of things, like subways, there’s no doubt that that would be expensive, but there are much cheaper forms of transport that you can deal with, like buses. Buses are much more likely to be used by women because they’re the low-cost option, and it would be very easy to collect the data on where women need the buses to be and what they need for safety.
One thing I find very interesting is that women form the majority of bus users in London during the day, but that switches over at night. We don’t have data on why that is, but I think it’s fairly easy to guess. So if women were using the bus at night, the bus companies would perhaps be making more money, and that could pay for anything they did to try and get more women on the bus, like making sure the stops are in well-lit areas.
I think Caroline Perez makes some good points and it may be that none of this is news to you, but it is an issue which has interested me for a while and I have mentioned before. See my blog from early 2017 at:

(Click on the map to enlarge. Slightly different to my original map because of service changes since Jan 2017, but my argument for such a Beeston Bramcote Buggy Bus network remains unchanged).

Maybe evening bus services would be more frequent and profitable if they looked at what women bus passengers want.

The Tram in Nottingham was aimed at men using cars. How true that is now I’m not so sure, but I have femail friends who use The Tram because they perceive it to be safer and more comfortable (the latter I dispute). I suspect the nature of tram stops contributes to the former view, simply because they are more substantial and better lit. Bus stops at night, despite the best efforts of councils like Nottingham, can be pretty grim.

Finally, here is a photograph I took of Beeston Interchange in 2015 (click to enlarge).

It hasn’t changed. I could have taken the same pic last week when I walked through it. Deserted and grim and not a year old at the time!  The land to the right has yet to be developed and Broxtowe Borough Council talks in hazy terms about ‘late-2020’. I feel as sorry for NCT and Trent-Barton as I do the poor sods who have to use it at night.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Message for Penny Benford re: copies of Beeston map.

Hello Penny

Happy to help. There are a few copies left.

Please contact Beeston Civic Society.

If they don’t have enough they can contact me and I will get them to you.