Martin Kirby Column; Fair And Square, Not Optimistic and Burning Ambitions
THEY'RE ALL PARKING MAD
If you think that King's Square looks an absolute shambles and Gloucester City Council is guilty of wasting thousands of taxpayer pounds on it, I'd agree with you - but things could be worse.
The people who stump-up their council tax in Taunton have a lot more to moan about, as their council's recent blunder puts Gloucester City Council into the shade.
Briefly, Taunton Deane Borough Council closed a car park which was in front of a 'posh' hotel in the centre of town and - in a scheme costing £3 million - paved it over with the intention of it serving as a 'public space' described as 'Taunton's own piazza and an ideal space in which to put on wonderful open air events'.
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Sadly, the public of Taunton didn't share this grand vision and since the work was completed last December, motorists have used it as an unofficial free car park.
To sum-up, Taunton Deane Borough Council closed a car park from which they made a profit, spent three million quid tarting it up, and now people park there for nothing.
In the centre of Gloucester we have a similar open space that used to be a car park and is now totally wasted; it's called King's Square. As I've said so many times before, our council should allow it to be used as a short-term car park – at least until the promised King's Quarter regeneration starts. There would be revenue from the parking and having such a facility right alongside, would help to reverse the closure of shops around King's Square.
In fact, the council could have made a tidy sum out of the square already, had someone been courageous enough to admit that having cars in the city centre is not such a bad thing.
There were very few empty shops near to King's Square up until the 1970s, when the whole area was decimated by a former grand regeneration scheme. Why continue to waste something that could be a huge benefit?
I'M PESSIMISTIC ABOUT BEING OPTIMISTIC
Last week I was asked to take part in a discussion on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. The subject was pessimism and - as regular readers know - if being a curmudgeon were an Olympic sport I'd be knee-deep in gold medals, so it's not surprising that I was invited to stick my oar in. I was asked what I thought about a recent survey which had come to the conclusion that pessimists live longer than optimists.
The survey was carried out by University of Erlang-Nuremberg in Germany found that older people who are blighted by negative thoughts and fear for the future, are more likely to live longer and lead healthier lives.
Lead author of the survey, Frieder R. Lang said: 'Our findings revealed that being overly optimistic in predicting a better future was associated with a greater risk of disability and death within the following decade. Pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions.'
All well and good, but after the show I discovered that in 2004, a similar survey had been carried out by researchers in the Netherlands and the Dutch boffins concluded that people who were highly optimistic 'had a 55% lower risk of death from all causes and a 23% lower risk of death from heart disease than individuals with a very negative outlook', or in other words, the exact opposite.
So I've come to the conclusion that all surveys about lifestyle are total rubbish and what feels right for you, is what's best for you.
YOU 'ORRIBLE SHOWER!
Bungling burglars who tried to steal a boiler from a cottage in Hartpury got more than they expected when, after they cut the pipes, the metal monster tipped over, spraying them with a large amount of boiling water. I've been told the police are hot on their trail.