House Notes with Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood
WELCOME to my 100th column for the Echo. Personally, I think this is a milestone in the history of journalism worth a slot at the Lit Fest, but at the very least it's a great way for me to keep in touch.
National and international stories have featured over the last two years, from Arab Spring to Alternative Vote referendum, from royal weddings and diamond jubilees to riots and phone hacking and bankers' bonuses.
But looking back over the 100 columns, the Cheltenham stories which stand out: Kauto Star at the Gold Cup, the explosion in Rosehill Street, the Robins at Wembley, the furious debate over growth and green spaces (currently pitting Cheltenham councillors against Gloucester and Tewkesbury – I hope local Tories are furiously lobbying the Conservative leaderships next door to think again).
And we only know about half these local stories because of the Echo itself.
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I've said before that quality daily local newspapers are increasingly rare so, from me and I'd guess from all your other columnists too, thanks for being there and thanks for giving us space.
Highlights of the week:
Monday: Lots of gowns on show in the university's Chapel of St Paul and St Mary for the installations of the new Chancellor, Baroness Fritchie, a second ceremonial Pro Chancellor, Henry Elwes, and the Vice Chancellor, who actually runs the place, Stephen Marston.
They mean installation literally: each takes their seat in a wooden stall at the back of the chapel.
Wednesday: Catch-up with Cheltenham's new police superintendent Bridget Woodall.
It was reassuring to hear that crime in Cheltenham is significantly down, not least in the burglary department.
Burglary had reached epidemic proportions in Cheltenham last year, but many of the perpetrators are now guests of Her Majesty.
Even more encouraging for the long-term was news of continued success for initiatives like the Aston Project designed to stop youngsters getting into crime in the first place.
Thursday: Celebrated with friends of the Global Footsteps charity at their smartly revamped cafe in Portland Street.
Want a delicious solar-powered hot chocolate and sustainable cake? It's the place to go.
A rival highlight for the day was an extraordinary performance of – what to call it? – live film animation with music and sound effects.
The Paper Cinema's spellbinding Odyssey gripped the audience at the Parabola Arts Centre, which has quickly established itself as a really important and edgy part of Cheltenham's performing arts scene.