Martin Kirby Column; Cash Flow, Crumbling Ruins and Wired-up Trees
NO EXPENSE SPARED IN GLOUCESTER
Local high finance has been in the news and at the time of writing; a decision was still to be made on whether £400,000 would be invested in renewing Gloucester's CCTV camera system. We were also informed of how much it costs to keep Gloucestershire's MPs in the manner to which they are accustomed. More than £800,000 was forked-out last year on six members of the Westminster Home For The Permanently Bewildered, including their salaries and expenses. Still, in my opinion, it's all about value for money.
You can have the best cameras available, but if the images are 'not admissible in court' – or offenders who are clearly visible committing crimes are given soft sentences by clueless judges, the cameras are a waste of cash. The same applies to MPs.
We foot the bill for the staffing and running of constituency offices, and general administration, while Parliamentary expenses include accommodation for living in London during the week, and travel and subsistence. But if they are seen to be working all hours and fighting for the people they represent, regardless of their party line, I have no objection to MPs having a few drinks out of the petty cash tin. As the old song goes; 'It 'aint what you do, it's the way that you do it…and that's what gets results'.
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RIPE FOR RESTORATION
Since learning that the old Hatherley Road School could be demolished, I've been taking more notice of old buildings around the city. All over Gloucester you can see crumbling old ruins and for once, I'm not referring to my fellow columnist, Ancient Arnold.
A typical example lies in Southgate Street, opposite the main entrance to The Docks. This once-imposing building reeks of decay and its porch is often home to the Gloucester branch of the Cider Appreciation Society. According to the excellent book on Gloucester's pubs by Darrel Kirby (no relation), during the mid-1800s it was the Albion Hotel.
A century later it was known as Albion House and used as offices but it has been redundant for many years. It's a Grade II listed building which was given permission for conversion to flats in 2009, but is still in decline. Sad, considering it's a large building on one of the main approaches to the city centre.
ONE BLOKE HAS TWIGGED-IT
It's been pointed-out to me that some of the city centre's trees are being 'strangled'.
I'm no expert in things arboreal, but I reckon some of the trees around Gloucester are a damned nuisance. However, my nature-loving friend is concerned for the welfare of certain specimens in both Eastgate Street and King's Square.
He said cable which, presumably, is left in place ready to be attached to our meagre Christmas decorations when the time comes, is the culprit. The trees are outgrowing their electrical attachments, which my friend fears will damage and possibly kill the trees. Or is he barking?