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Gary

Failed City of Culture bid

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I see that the land on which the Cabinet Works stands is now due to be used to build flats. So, all back to normal then for Warrington. Maybe the council could take a picture of some kids in 'cultcha' t shirts in front of them once they're built. 

I would say the press release from the council that accompanies the announcement is a masterpiece of obfuscation, but it's really just a blatant example of how the council will proceed from now on. It's going to keep on building its flats, 'executive homes', business parks and out of town retail strips, but now they'll claim that they'll be built with regard to the town's heritage. And because the council equates talk with action, they'll genuinely believe it on some level.   

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1 hour ago, Milky said:

so the cabinet works is due to be knocked down?

Looks that way. The council has issued a waffling statement saying the flats will respect the surroundings and 'heritage' of the area, but beyond limiting their height and materials, it's hard to see what that means. Just talk, as usual. I believe demolition was seen as inevitable even before this however. I don't know how much of the land and buildings are involved. It's just a shame it's come to this.  

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Many thanks for the document grey_man. It is interesting in that it contains nothing which could justify not being published before. Were you told it had to be redacted before you could see it?

Secondly it is just as vacuous as I had expected. It must have made it very easy to let DCMS decide which bids to discard. It demonstrated to concrete plans of any kind but relied on the efforts of others. The lack of vision is painful to observe.

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As far as I know nothing has been redacted and the FOI request was met pretty promptly. 

It raised all sorts of questions for me. Chief among which was why somebody didn't put an end to it all following the brainstorming session in which the list of local cultural assets included Ikea, a multiplex, a facility in St Helens and an amateur theatre group. And I'm not kidding. If you have to mention Ikea in a bid for City of Culture, you should know you're doomed. Not to mention the citing in the document of facilities the council wanted to denude, close or sell off, including Walton Hall, the Parr Hall organ and the libraries. 

You can also see the obsession with becoming a city, the strange idea of Warrington becoming a 'Garden City' and the focus on the economy rather than culture for its own sake.

I hope the humiliation of putting this together and having it rejected out of hand forces a rethink, but my guess would be not. I also was left wondering what could have been done with the millions that have been spent propping up Live Wire. Warrington needs to develop its cultural assets and activities for far more reasons than becoming a city.    

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Thanks for the response. I have to agree with you that it should have been closed down quite early on. However I suspect that if it was done in the usual brainstorming manner - the rules are that no idea is bad at the outset - it can allow many red-herrings to run their course to nothing with resulting costs to give nothing that can get in the document. Their should be an initial gate after brainstorming to stop that. A potential problem is that using consultants does not allow the organisation to retain all the lessons learned in these exercises.

The obsession with New City was a very odd thing to put in. However, overall, it just said the wrong things. It was supposed to say why the "festival effect" of Warrington being chosen would make the notion of a City of Culture more popular and successful with the British public at large than anywhere else could in 2021. Instead it said why Warrington would gain from it. Reminds one of the JFK'ism parodied as "Ask not what the country can do for your Town but what your Town can do for the country"!

I am more sanguine than you perhaps about the Great Sankey Leisure Centre delays. The reason is that the fault in the ring beam was said to date from initial installation so the blame for it not being recognised as a risk lies with the poor processes by the Borough Council in inspecting the asset as it was handed over from the New Town. It would have been reasonable to expect that the failing by the council would be a risk they had to bear because the staff (along with any skill deficit) for Livewire came from the council too and the assets remain in council hands so that they can competitively tendered. It seems to me less that the council is bailing out Livewire than it is using Livewire to deflect criticism of its own poor performance. The downside of my view is that there would not have been millions to spend on arts facilities.

However the latest clarification that borrowing for commercial property purchase to make a profit is not regarded as prudential borrowing and therefore improper will hopefully cause a major rethink. Borrowing to improve the town is permitted and could be possible once more when the new funding formula is established in 2019 and beyond.

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I think perhaps the refusal of the bid has been a godsend, Some of the stunts that get passed off as art are downright embarrassing. And why the obsession with city status ? If it happens it happens but why aspire to be something even more congested than Warrington already is ?  The town is chugging along quite nicely in the prosperity stakes & maybe the biggest benefit of city status would be keeping the business rates in the town coffers.

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16 minutes ago, Confused52 said:

The obsession with New City was a very odd thing to put in. However, overall, it just said the wrong things. It was supposed to say why the "festival effect" of Warrington being chosen would make the notion of a City of Culture more popular and successful with the British public at large than anywhere else could in 2021. Instead it said why Warrington would gain from it. Reminds one of the JFK'ism parodied as "Ask not what the country can do for your Town but what your Town can do for the country"!

Fair comment. I always get the feeling they are very inward looking, parochial and can't always distinguish between the Town and the Council. Might be unfair, but this document doesn't do anything to make me think different. 

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By the way, I also meant to mention what a progressive mindset about culture can get you. Just contrast what's happened with the Halifax Piece Hall with what would have happened in Warrington. If the site had been here, it would now be a 5 hectare plot of executive homes and a Spar. Everybody at the council should look at it in light of their feeble attempts at 'culture' and hang their heads in shame.   

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I haven't been on here for a while so I haven't been following the thread. However having just got back from a Gala Dinner for Coventry Business School and seen how Coventry has changed since I studied there we were out of our depth. At the time my dissertation was on the Social and Economic aspects of the City and it was a bit down in the dumps but since then it has got back on it's feet appears much stronger place and as precursor to and for the bid have focused on celebrating cultural aspects.

One of which was a £12million refurbishment of the Belgrade Theatre built with a generous donation from the then Yugoslavia following the Coventry Blitz of November 1940 when the city was all but flattened. Having said that they still retained and maintained some very iconic buildings. The new Cathedral was built at a similar time and next to the shell of the old one facing the University campus that has had such an impact of the City Centre taken over a major part of the ring road stamping its own culture on the city.

Culture doesn't just happen over night it evolves over time it can't be rushed, it can't be bought - you only have to look at the reasons why Liverpool was so dominant in 2008 as European Capital of Culture - one of the architects of their bid was Phil Redmund - steeped in Culture just as it was steeped in Liverpool's history - celebrating the Maritime, Rock and Role, Faith, struggle of the people, slave trade, shipping prowess, football, scouse humour, trade capital of the world, everyman threatre, Royal Theatre, Grand National - tough act to follow.

Warrington is a proud and a success Town appearing in City League tables because of its population size. It is punching above it's weight and should be ambitious but maybe it should focus on developing it's vision and tackle the pressing issues whilst understanding and supporting it's cultural offering.

I suppose also that Warrington's culture may over recent years been influenced by the influx of Scousers and Mancs who have brought their own aspects of culture which may have got the Town's mental map a bit confused especially as history has been gradually stripped away since the days of the New Town and subsequent doubling of the population to now over 200,000. Do we really understand the Warrington roots and when I say we I not only mean us incomers who have decided to make their homes in Warrington but also the officers of the council who go home at night to other parts and therefore spend little or no time living in Warrington outside New Town House - just a thought :) 

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So perhaps a condition of employment for all Council Officers, that they live within the Borough ?   Might help relieve some of the traffic congestion !     :D

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1 hour ago, Geoffrey Settle said:

I haven't been on here for a while so I haven't been following the thread. However having just got back from a Gala Dinner for Coventry Business School and seen how Coventry has changed since I studied there we were out of our depth. At the time my dissertation was on the Social and Economic aspects of the City and it was a bit down in the dumps but since then it has got back on it's feet appears much stronger place and as precursor to and for the bid have focused on celebrating cultural aspects.

One of which was a £12million refurbishment of the Belgrade Theatre built with a generous donation from the then Yugoslavia following the Coventry Blitz of November 1940 when the city was all but flattened. Having said that they still retained and maintained some very iconic buildings. The new Cathedral was built at a similar time and next to the shell of the old one facing the University campus that has had such an impact of the City Centre taken over a major part of the ring road stamping its own culture on the city.

Culture doesn't just happen over night it evolves over time it can't be rushed, it can't be bought - you only have to look at the reasons why Liverpool was so dominant in 2008 as European Capital of Culture - one of the architects of their bid was Phil Redmund - steeped in Culture just as it was steeped in Liverpool's history - celebrating the Maritime, Rock and Role, Faith, struggle of the people, slave trade, shipping prowess, football, scouse humour, trade capital of the world, everyman threatre, Royal Theatre, Grand National - tough act to follow.

Warrington is a proud and a success Town appearing in City League tables because of its population size. It is punching above it's weight and should be ambitious but maybe it should focus on developing it's vision and tackle the pressing issues whilst understanding and supporting it's cultural offering.

I suppose also that Warrington's culture may over recent years been influenced by the influx of Scousers and Mancs who have brought their own aspects of culture which may have got the Town's mental map a bit confused especially as history has been gradually stripped away since the days of the New Town and subsequent doubling of the population to now over 200,000. Do we really understand the Warrington roots and when I say we I not only mean us incomers who have decided to make their homes in Warrington but also the officers of the council who go home at night to other parts and therefore spend little or no time living in Warrington outside New Town House - just a thought :) 

I don't think that's the major problem Geoff, although it might well be part of it. If you read the bid document it is primarily about the economy and population, not culture. That is indicative of the council's view of the town. As I've said all along, the word that attracted the council to make a bid was not 'Culture' but 'City'.   

There will be no cultural development in Warrington until there's a shift in thinking from those who have the power to do something about it. I suspect Dan Price's heart is in the right place, but he also displays the council's general disgust of scrutiny and questioning. Ask him anything he doesn't like and he responds like a child. I can guarantee he'd throw a tantrum if asked whether anybody really thought Ikea would make any difference to the judges.

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Come on Geoff. You must know why. :)

Now the trick will be to get the local media to ask questions about it. 

And I hope Dan comes up with something concrete tonight. Anything at all would set it apart from the actual bid document. 

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I'm probably more in the dark than you - I know nothing after all I was deselected 2 years ago.

I have been out of the political loop since then and focused on my trustee interests which is a totally different sort of battle with a whole series of unnerving issues and challenges.

I'm sure that you will have some question for him tonight :) 

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I'd go but am busy. I suspect the reason why it was all such a big secret is because that's what the council does. The less people know, the better. Which I think might actually be true in this case.

 

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I never understand that stance just gets people's backs up from the start and then it's downhill from there on....

I'm sure that Gary will be reporting on tonight's talk and Q&A :) 

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There's nothing in it that warrants secrecy. Although I'm sure the other entrants would have been boosted by a waffling entry based on the existence of Ikea and a handful of cultural assets the council has recently tried to get rid of. 

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I've now seen Gary's tweets with the slides from the presentation. Full of typos and poor grammar, which kind of sums up the whole approach. I don't know if Dan is dyslexic or whatever but surely somebody could have checked it before it went public. 

As for the content, almost entirely froth and blather and wishful thinking. The point that intrigued me was about plans 'much are which were in delivery' (sic). Unless it's referring to plans for roads, a multiplex and housing estates, I have no idea what these might be.

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Gary's tweets so much it was hard to track down the tweet but I did - it mentions bidding for 2025 but Luton has already left the starting blocks - probably egged on by their own Paula Radcliffe :) I remember going from the Bedford track upstairs to the lounge area and there was a massive picture of Paula looking down at me from the stair wall - very inspiring. 

Luton £200k on bidding for City status as guess what they are a large town - so lots to compare and contrast with Warrington. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-39106516

It looks like Gary's slide with the words is too big to upload onto this site - who said @That's because there are tooooo many words?" 

Unfortunately I didn't make it because I was on Grand Papa duties - Our young charge didn't go to sleep until 8.30pm plus I'm in 'her in doors bad books' for the time being and was grounded :wub: there have been too many incidents of late like 'Dog's dinnergate', 'shopping-gate' and several other 'gates'.... but we'll leave it at that :) 

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